Basalt candidates brainstorm on how to stimulate the economy |

Basalt candidates brainstorm on how to stimulate the economy

The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

BASALT – Five candidates are running for three seats on the Basalt Town Council in the April 3 election. The Aspen Times is running questions and answers throughout this week. Today’s question is: Would you stimulate Basalt’s economy by approving development applications or through other avenues?

It’s important for town government to keep in focus what its purpose is and what it’s good at. I truly believe, as the owner of a Basalt business, that we’re all hanging on by our fingernails together until we get past these tough times. I also truly believe that Basalt and the Roaring Fork Valley economies are going to recover faster and better than most anywhere else in the country. If even a few of the great proposals currently coming before the town actually come to fruition, our future is looking pretty rosy – as long as the long-term well-being of the town and its citizens are kept in mind.

No one wants us to approve an oil refinery in the middle of town, or drop our standards, to create a few jobs in the short term. If we stick to our mandate from the voters to keep Basalt a great, safe and healthy place to live, and work with businesses that want to come here to create things that both fit in and will bring long-term economic benefit, we’ll be stimulated just fine, thank you.

Fortunately, Basalt has great potential if our elected officials take advantage of the times we are now in, and find a way to grow our community based on the approvals in place. I have never been an advocate of unbridled growth, and in fact introduced the concept of urban growth boundaries, three-mile planning, and focusing on the river corridor into the planning process in ’96. It will take creativity and strong relationships with business partners to continue our success. I am committed to our community and prepared to give whatever it takes to get the job done correctly and in a timely fashion.

A few weeks ago I attended the Basalt Bash with my wife and hardly anyone showed up. There was beautiful weather, free music, food and beverages, and yet no one was there. The first step to stimulating the economy is giving people a reason to show up and start talking about events like this that encourages others to be there as well. If we can’t get our own community to come to events like this, how do you attract new businesses to want to be in Basalt?

I would certainly look at all options on the table to stimulate Basalt’s economy. I would not reject any opportunity without fully exploring it first. One of my goals for being a council member is to give Basalt a fresh appeal and invigorated excitement about our community. Whether economic stimulus comes from new developments or not, we need leadership that drives new ideas and cultivates our community better in order to put Basalt on the map.

We need to examine all avenues of economic sustainability, and not just focus on new construction and development. There are already thousands of new housing units approved for Basalt. We must ensure that growth complements the nature of our town and that we become attractive to new businesses that want to relocate to Basalt.

There are businesses upvalley that don’t need to be there. They could reduce overhead, commute time, and attract better employees by locating in Basalt. We can provide a high quality and dynamic environment for business as well as high-performing schools, which will attract families, and provide a solid economic foundation for the community.

We also have amazing natural resources: two gold-medal trout streams, great hiking and biking, and should do more to attract tourist dollars. Despite two rivers running through the middle of town, there is only one place to sit outside and have dinner or drink a beer by the river. I will strive to make our rivers better integrated into our community.

I would like to say first and foremost, that I would never vote to approve any development for the sole purpose of stimulating Basalt’s economy, such a thing would only be a short-term solution. That being said, our economy as a vibrant and diverse entity, separate and distinct from that of the rest of the valley is something that must be carefully nurtured. Development may possibly play a part in this. Any future development that we approve must in no way do any harm to many qualities of life in Basalt that we all value so greatly.

Examples of what this could be are projects like: the Aspen Valley Medical Foundation’s Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) and the Basalt Community Center. One must keep an open mind for long-term benefits, balanced with an eye to the defense of our community values. As such complex projects unfold over the course of the approval process these type of tradeoffs will become more apparent.

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