Basalt church will provide new home for bats, more room for parishioners |

Basalt church will provide new home for bats, more room for parishioners

The rectory for St. Vincent Catholic Church, left, will be demolished to make space for an expansion of the parish hall. A bat house will be erected to provide a new home for bats in the rectory.
Scott Condon/The Aspen Times

St. Vincent Catholic Church in Basalt doesn’t have bats in its belfry but it does have them in its rectory.

Church officials have vowed to accommodate the bat colony when it demolishes the rectory to create space for a 2,400-square-foot expansion of its main parish hall. The church will install one-way bat doors prior to the demolition and set up a bat house elsewhere on the property, according to Pat McMahon, a parish member who is representing the church in its land use application with the town of Basalt.

“When they cannot get back in the (rectory), they have somewhere to go,” McMahon told the Basalt Planning and Zoning Commission during a teleconference Tuesday night.

The parish wants to expand its main building, constructed in 1988, to better accommodate existing operations. McMahon said religious education classes are being held in the basement, which doesn’t have adequate egress in case of fire. The new space will also be used as overflow seating for masses at the busiest time.

The parish doesn’t anticipate adding new services so it is exempt from affordable housing mitigation. Not so with bat housing mitigation.

A planning commissioner raised the issue of the bats during a site visit earlier in the process. A desire to preserve the bats was expressed and church officials agreed.

“Thank you for taking care of the bat issues,” planning commission member Tracy Bennett said at Tuesday’s meeting. “That was really my deal. I appreciate you guys going above and beyond.”

The rectory hasn’t been occupied for several years. The parish priest has split time for a considerable number of years between St. Vincent and St. Mary of the Crown in Carbondale, so the housing hasn’t been needed in Basalt.

McMahon said the parish must raise funds before it pursues the construction project. The rectory likely won’t be torn down until fall or winter. Construction is targeted next year.

The planning commission voted unanimously to recommend approval of the project. It will now go to the Town Council.


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