Basalt council tipped its hand on property’s future
August 20, 2017
The Basalt Town Council owes its citizens a commitment to seriously consider Lowe's development proposal for the Pan and Fork property.
The citizens have spoken on this issue, but the majority of council members appear to ardently believe that the parcel should be all or almost all park. Viewed objectively, this is an extreme position that is not in line with the closely divided community positions of park versus development, as evidenced by the close votes defeating the town's proposed purchase of the Community Development Corp. parcel using a tax increase, and the election of "all park" or "almost all park" candidates.
The closeness of the citizens' positions calls for a nuanced, middle-of-the-road outcome. With some development along the road and a large legacy park next to the river everybody wins, and that is what is proposed.
Let's recall that we had a multi-year community outreach process called "Our Town" a mere few years ago, which concluded in a vote. Basalt citizens decided that there should be a balance between commercial and residential development and park.
Downtown Basalt is losing visitors, revenue and vitality to other towns in the valley because we lack sufficient lodging. A boutique hotel would round out "Our Town" and solve this problem. The river park is instrumental to the proposal and is a given. And as proposed it will be the majority of the site.
Council can use the development submission process in order to negotiate what it feels is important: employee housing, river park acreage, parking, development fees, etc. But I think many Basalt-area residents and business owners fear that council has, based on many public statements, prejudged the application. I ask council to please consider the history of public input and give the proposal its due consideration in light of it.
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I think it's sad that a developer hesitates to make the investment in a development application because elected officials have publicly hinted at their disapproval.