Basalt council feels pressure to proceed with park on land it owns
Basalt Town Council members want to convert as much of the land the town already owns at the former Pan and Fork Mobile Home Park property into a park as quickly as possible, but it might not happen until fall.
Town staff brought the council two options at its meeting Tuesday night — build a “pop-up park” of 750 to 1,000 square feet or convert about 1 acre that is alongside the Roaring Fork River into a park.
Councilman Mark Kittle suggested some residents would be upset with the pop-up park concept.
“I think people are ready for some green out there, not 1,000 square feet,” he said.
Basalt voters rejected a proposal in the November election to buy an additional 2.3 acres at the Pan and Fork site from a private party. The town proposed buying that land and expanding the park.
Some critics said the town should focus on developing a park on the land it owns and let the remainder of the site be developed commercially. The town property and adjacent land owned by the Roaring Fork Community Development Corp. was irrigated last summer but essentially looked like weeds growing in a dirt field.
An advantage of a pop-up park is that it could be accomplished by June, according to the presentation at the council meeting. It also would be cheap, with a price less than $100,000.
A disadvantage is it might fall short of residents’ expectations, the analysis concluded.
“I cannot see people accepting a park the size of this room,” Councilman Bernie Grauer said.
Councilman Gary Tennenbaum, who was running the meeting in the absence of Mayor Jacque Whitsitt, who was ill, agreed with Grauer.
“If we do too little, people will be like, ‘Really?’” Tennenbaum said.
But developing an acre of park also has a drawback, staff and council members conceded. Some of the work might have to be torn out and redone once a development application is submitted and approved on the portion adjacent to Two Rivers Road.
Grauer suggested they develop a park on the town-owned land least likely to be affected by development on the private parcel. He said the town cannot afford to wait.
“At the rate this thing is going, we might not get approval (on the private land) until I don’t know when,” he said.
Tennenbaum said he wants a transparent review process that is inviting for the public, but at a minimum he would like to see sod and a children’s play area with a water feature created on the town-owned land. Public meetings will be held to determine the amenities to add.
Developing a larger park will require more time for planning and implementation. Officials said it might be September before the park is ready for prime time rather than June.
The Aspen City Council directed staff to move forward with the Burlingame early childhood education center, but decided it needs more information on the affordable housing units that are part of the schematic design at a work session Monday.