Basalt can buy parcel now, save in the long run | AspenTimes.com

Basalt can buy parcel now, save in the long run

The Basalt council has an obvious fiduciary responsibility to citizens to let the free market compete to best manage the millions of taxpayer dollars already invested in and around the Roaring Fork Community Development Corp. river parcel. Owning the parcel will allow this. Council members who promote a continued monopoly are guilty of taxpayer malfeasance.

Basalt not buying out the Roaring Fork Community Development Corp. interest for $2.9 million likely would be very, very costly for Basalt taxpayers.

For clarity, the land I refer to is the land the town has already invested millions of taxpayer funds in and around to give it unique potential. It is the land that borders Two Rivers Road with the black 4-foot fence around it. It now cuts the public off from having river views and access from the old town side of town, also known as the Community Development Corp. parcel.

If Basalt does not buy the river parcel, it likely will cost taxpayers significantly more money and loss. The many reasons for this are all related to the lack of a free-market process that buying it would facilitate. Not purchasing the parcel keeps the taxpayers from benefiting fairly from the value that future zoning actions may produce and taxpayer funds already created.

Specifically:

1. The value of that parcel will be determined by how Basalt zones it. Not buying the parcel blocks the taxpayers from fully benefiting from the likely profit windfall that a free-market process would allow if significant high-end residential usage type zoning is placed on the property, as has been proposed. I do not favor that usage, but if it is to be zoned for that, the public should be compensated fairly.

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2. Council not buying the parcel blocks taxpayers from fully benefiting from the possible $7.5 million in revenue that a competitive resale might yield. That is what residential development approvals on half of the parcel should be worth.

The above are overwhelming reasons for the town to complete the purchase now.

Astonishingly enough, there is an even more compelling reason for council to complete the purchase. Limiting proposals to those from one developer, with a monopolistic form of control, without having had to compete in an open market process run by Basalt, promotes developer greed. So far only one developer has been allowed in on the game for the past 2.5 years, which is at the root of the problem. The last proposal outlined in a "preproposal letter" had, by my best guesstimate, about $20 million in embedded future taxpayer costs in the form of developer subsides and impact waivers. That $20 million did even not include the lost value that a free market process should deliver.

Council members must decide to promote developer greed or taxpayer relief.

Mark Kwiecienski

Basalt