The 11th hour request by a Basalt developer to delay construction for up to seven years of a restaurant and patio overlooking the Roaring Fork River on the old Pan and Fork site is threatening a years-long community process.
The process resulted in consensus for small-scale development, a large city park and a restaurant to stimulate social vitality and economic activity.
The developer has told the Town Council and the planning commission all along that the project, including the restaurant, as illustrated in the plans, could be completed within three years.
That tune changed abruptly at the first reading before the council, leaving the council two weeks to decide before the second and final reading on Tuesday, Feb. 25.
Similarly, Basalt mayoral candidate Bill Infante would throw out the years of public meetings, during which time he was not even a resident, discussions, past council directions and the recommendations of a Blue Ribbon citizens committee. That process approved of the city buying an extra acre of parkland, small-scale development and a restaurant.
Neither the developers’ last-minute about-face — nor Bill’s intent to scuttle what the town put so much time and effort into — should be tolerated by the Town Council. Bill’s claim is that because he handpicked supposed experts, without naming them, and they told him to ditch the extra park, “I would have to defer to those experts.”
That is nonsense, considering that none of these unidentified “experts” has ever made a presentation to the Town Council, the public, or been subject to questioning or debate.
The council should not be hurried into a final decision on Feb. 25. It should negotiate with the developer and develop several options, including buying the restaurant site, building the patio and allowing local restaurants to run food carts and trucks there all summer.