Basalt Town Councilman Bernie Grauer is eager to tell residents what he thinks should be done with the former Pan and Fork Mobile Home Park. It doesn’t look like he will get the opportunity any time soon.
Grauer expressed his preference Tuesday night when the council voted 5-0 to authorize the sale of bonds to purchase additional property at the Pan and Fork site from the nonprofit Roaring Fork Community Development Corp. The town already owns 2.9 acres of the 5.3-acre property. It will buy an additional amount of acreage, to be determined, from the nonprofit.
One faction of the community is concerned that the council will keep more of the site as open space rather than allow development. Another contingent wants more open space.
The council hasn’t charted a course yet because there is a community planning process underway. However, a contingent of residents appeared at a July 22 council meeting and expressed concerns that the council is making a plan. Grauer said it was unfortunate that the council members weren’t allowed at that meeting to address the allegations. Mayor Jacque Whitsitt stifled debate and said it would be more appropriate at a different time.
Whitsitt said Tuesday that it wouldn’t be fair for the council members to discuss their visions for the Pan and Fork site without alerting the public of that discussion in advance. She said a block of time should be carved out in the future, though no discussion was scheduled.
Grauer stressed that the council hasn’t made any decision.
“There have been no discussions sub rosa that I’m aware of,” he said.
In other council action Tuesday night:
Town government watchdog Gerry Terwilliger scolded the board for allowing a town contractor to violate restrictions on noise by working until 2 a.m. Saturday on utility placement across the Pan and Fork site. He said the noise kept people awake and could have been avoided with better planning. Town Manager Mike Scanlon apologized and said the work was necessary to reopen downtown bus stops after three days and reopen roads for a busy weekend. The contractor needs to be ready to work in the Roaring Fork River during a short window of opportunity that starts Friday, Scanlon said. The work also needed to be done prior to the USA Pro Challenge professional cycling race coming through Basalt Aug. 19, he said.
The council voted, 5-0, to approve a resolution allowing Habitat for Humanity Roaring Fork to use a town-owned vacant lot on Homestead Drive for housing for a low-income family. The lot is located where there is currently a community garden with 14 plots. The plan is in its infancy.
The council voted, 5-0, to approve a resolution authorizing improvements to Triangle Park in Willits Town Center. As much as $250,000 in dedicated parks and open space funds will be used to build a fountain, stage, seating and shading. Topsoil needs to be brought in and different landscaping planted. Another $40,000 in funds from a Willits impact fee will be used to remove six or seven parking spaces and install landscaping at the corner of the park across from the Sure Thing burger restaurant to improve sight distances. Councilman Rob Leavitt supported the expenditure but expressed frustration that the Willits developer didn’t do the job right the first time.
“I’m uneasy spending public money to fix a developer’s screw-up,” he said.
The council voted, 5-0, to put a question on the November ballot seeking approval for a 5 percent municipal sales tax on recreational marijuana sales. The uses of the revenue will be determined at a later time, but the intent is to pursue prevention of underage marijuana use. Whitsitt said she felt the tax should be higher, similar to what is charged on alcohol and cigarettes. Councilman Mark Kittle said Basalt shouldn’t charge more than surrounding towns. The sales tax on pot ranges from 3.5 to 5 percent in other local jurisdictions.
“If we go larger, they’re just not going to buy here,” Kittle said.