Another $700,000 needed to build Basalt River Center |

Another $700,000 needed to build Basalt River Center

Scott Condon
The Aspen Times
The Roaring Fork Conservancy hopes to build a River Center west of Rocky Mountain Institute’s Innovation Center.
Jeremy Wallace/The Aspen Times |


•The Town Council voted 5-0 to approve an 80,000-square-foot expansion to the Basalt Mini-Storage along Southside Drive. Clay Crossland and his partners in DavidCo LLC said there is a “severe shortage” in storage space in the midvalley. No additional space has been added since the facility expanded in 1998, he said.

DavidCo LLC wants to phase in the 80,000 square feet in four buildings of 20,000 square feet each, as demand warrants.

While the request was approved, Crossland didn’t like some of the conditions placed on the project. The board demanded extensive landscaping after each phase, to screen it from residences, and extension of an asphalt trail on the developers’ dime.

Crossland said he was “disappointed” with the board’s decision. The land was zoned industrial long ago at great benefit to the town, he said. Crossland said he would have to discuss the conditions of approval with his partners to see if they want to move forward.

•The board of directors for The Arts Center At Willits, also known as TACAW, was told to come back with a pro forma that shows a proposed facility could be successful without a town government subsidy for operations.

•The council voted 5-0 to allow the Roaring Fork Club to add kitchen facilities to 10 suites. The council upheld an earlier decision that the Roaring Fork Club must pay the full amount of parkland dedication fees. A representative of the club said that fee, an estimated $100,000, might be a deal breaker for adding the kitchen facilities in the short-term rental units.

•The council met with Town Manager Mike Scanlon and Town Attorney Tom Smith in an executive session — closed to the public — to discuss negotiations to purchase land owned by Roaring Fork Community Development Corp. The nonprofit owns 2.3 acres of land closest to Two Rivers Road at the former Pan and Fork Mobile Home Park site. The town owns 3 acres closest to the Roaring Fork River. Scanlon said Wednesday no action was taken after the executive session. His negotiations will continue.

The Roaring Fork Conservancy hopes to break ground on the first phase of a 6,200-square-foot river center in Basalt this fall.

The nonprofit organization committed to water quality and quantity issues in the Roaring Fork Valley needs to raise about $700,000 in additional funds to reach the $3 million needed for the project, Pat McMahon, president of the organization’s board of directors, told the Basalt Town Council Tuesday evening.

“We’re moving forward with the expectation that our donor support is there,” McMahon said. “If we don’t have the funding lined up, we’re not breaking ground.”

The project came before the council for some changes to its development approvals.

The site of the proposed center is west of Rocky Mountain Institute’s new Innovation Center along Two Rivers Road. The river conservancy wants to build 4,000 square feet in the first phase of the project.

The town government is contributing a considerable amount to the project. It bought back about one third of an acre that had previously been sold to the river conservancy. It will lease the site to the nonprofit instead. That produced $400,000 for the river center. The town also has committed $176,000 for work on Two Rivers Road, $100,000 for fees and $270,000 for upgrades at Old Pond Park.

The town is one of the river conservancy’s biggest benefactors, noted Councilwoman Jennifer Riffle, and with it comes responsibilities. Riffle and Councilwoman Katie Schwoerer said they could only approve the project if certain conditions are met. They want details on the construction budget and funding, the operating and maintenance plans and updates on fundraising.

They stressed that they want to make sure the project will move forward and the conservancy is on strong financial ground before committing nearly $1 million in taxpayer funds.

Councilman Bernie Grauer called the requests “justified and called for.” Everybody wants to see the river center succeed, he said. Councilman Auden Schendler urged the council to approve the project with the conditions rather than withhold the approval until the financial information was produced.

The approval was granted 5-0. Mayor Jacque Whitsitt and Councilman Gary Tennenbaum were unable to attend the meeting.

The conservancy must take the final plan to the Basalt Planning and Zoning Commission, but it can avoid returning to the council.

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