Basalt buys Levinson open space |

Basalt buys Levinson open space

Basalt has acquired prime land along the Roaring Fork River for use as open space, but the real estate deal may also cost it one of the most popular restaurants in town.

The town government recently finalized a deal on the Dan and Lynn Levinson property, buying six acres just west of the Pan and Fork Mobile Home Park for $1.9 million.

Town officials have announced that the half of the property closest to the river will be used as open space and a park. The half closest to Two Rivers Road will be redeveloped as commercial and community space.

The site has been eyed for use as an office and education center by the Roaring Fork Conservancy, a nonprofit concerned with water quality in the Roaring Fork drainage.

The Basalt Regional Library District is also looking at the site for possible use for a new facility.

Although the town has no immediate plans, two businesses and four cabins face eventual eviction from the Levinson property. Taqueria el Nopal and a video store featuring Spanish-language flicks are among the town’s new tenants. The restaurant is one of the more popular eateries in the midvalley.

The businesses and residents had month-to-month leases with the Levinsons.

“The existing leases have been assumed at no extra cost and with a guaranteed minimum 90-day notice clause,” said a town government press release.

Town spokeswoman Kay Philip said that clause means no tenant can be evicted without at least 90 days’ notice. She also noted that a citizen advisory group that worked with the town on the acquisition “advocated fair and equitable treatment” for the residents and businesses.

What that means, exactly, is yet to be determined. A town regulation requires developers to replace any and all affordable housing that is displaced by a project. No provision exists for commercial development.

The purchase was funded through open space bond funds. Town residents approved a new property tax in November for open space, parks and flood control projects. The Levinson property is envisioned to include each of the three components.

Money raised from the sale of the property closest to Two Rivers Road will be returned to the open space fund – as required by the ballot language. Agreements and funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency could require work on flood hazard safety precautions to start as early as October of this year.

The town has already started to improve the property by removing enough debris to fill five dump trucks, regrading the parking lot, removing old signs and doing general landscaping maintenance.

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