Basalt candidates speak out on vision for Southside |

Basalt candidates speak out on vision for Southside

The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
Janet Urquhart The Aspen Times

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: the town anticipates receiving an application for a continued living complex for seniors in the Southside neighborhood. The town government has talked for years about better connectivity to the Southside. What’s your vision and how will you make it happen?

Let me start by saying that my father helped build a nursing home in Springfield, Mass., when I was a child, so I would be thrilled to support this project in his memory. I hope the Continued Living Complex on the south side is truly integrated into our community and that the residents are welcomed and encouraged to participate in all town activities, that it will include a childcare facility, and benefits the entire community economically and socially.

The intersection of Basalt Avenue and Highway 82 is clearly unfriendly and dangerous to pedestrians. We need a safe and easy crossing for school children and seniors and a functioning and efficient flow of traffic. This project must be well planned and incorporated into a design that makes the main entry into Basalt attractive and welcoming.

A direct pedestrian and vehicular connection located at Midland Avenue and Highway 82 would be ideal but financial constraints may make this difficult. That being said, I would like to exhaust all possibilities of making this happen before looking at less preferable alternatives. The most important concern is to seamlessly connect all segments of Basalt in a fiscally responsible manner.

The ideal solution I think would be the kind of underpass we (Pitkin County Commissioners) required of the developer at the Maroon Creek Club golf course project. This would also be the most expensive of the ideas being proposed. The only way to make this choice happen would be to put together monies from grants, CDOT, the developer (Aspen Valley Hospital Foundation), and any other monies available from the Feds for senior projects.

It would be hard work to pull off. Some of the other less expensive solutions, such as an overpass like the Wingo Junction bridge, don’t offend me, but the ability to pass vehicles, golf carts, etc., under the highway without even having to move the traffic lights make the underpass choice definitely my favorite.

Connectivity to the south side can be accomplished with an underpass and the extension of Midland Avenue. This element of our infrastructure has been batted around and neglected long enough. We have the opportunity to work with various partners now to get it done. It is integral to the execution of the River Master Plan. I am concerned that yet another opportunity to move forward on this effort will falter unless someone stay the course.

I would start by engaging families and businesses on the south side, and asking them their main concerns and reasons they feel disconnected. This is something we all need to have an open mind about and start thinking creatively to find the best solution.

When I worked as a community coordinator for the city of Bethany in Oklahoma (population 20,000), we ran into a similar issue. Through the collaboration of ideas generated with business owners, citizens and the city, we were able to come up with some ideas that encouraged people to go to the areas that they might typically not go to.

In regard to connectivity, I would want to assess the area closely with those that live around there and work together with the Chamber and potential businesses to better accommodate the needs. Knowing that the High School, neighborhoods, and potential senior living is there, it would make sense to find ways to establish businesses that they could patronize.

Furthermore, safe and easier access to Basalt would be another area where I would focus, in order to help bring more of these citizens to the core of Basalt.

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