Basalt, Eagle County governments ramping up in-person services
County offices reopen, Basalt contemplates in-person meetings
After more than a year of keeping offices closed to the public and conducting public meetings via video conference due to the coronavirus pandemic, the governments of Eagle County and Basalt are showing signs of in-person life.
Eagle County government has reopened offices in the Eagle and Roaring Fork valleys. County Manager Jeff Shroll also announced Tuesday that a program called Roaring Fork Fridays has resumed in El Jebel. The program gives constituents in the Roaring Fork Valley portion of Eagle County a chance to meet face-to-face with a revolving lineup of elected officials, top administrators and department heads.
Roaring Fork Fridays was suspended during the pandemic. Shroll said it was restarted last week because it is a good way to keep in touch with residents in the western portion of the county. El Jebel is about 50 miles from the county courthouse.
“There were days that were slow and days that were, ‘Holy smoke, there’s a lot of people here,’” Shroll said of Roaring Fork Fridays.
On slow days, he and other county officials use opportunities to “touch base with partners,” such as Basalt and Crown Mountain officials.
Officials dedicate time from 9 a.m. to noon Fridays for “walk-up” hours for the public at the Eagle County office building and community center in El Jebel.
Meanwhile, Basalt town government is inching closer to reconnecting to the public face-to-face.
“Town staff is looking at the timing for returning to in-person council meetings and reopening Town Hall,” town manager Ryan Mahoney wrote in an April 2 weekly report. “We believe that we can be back in person for our first June meeting.”
Shroll and Mahoney said large public gatherings for meetings of interest still present a problem.
Shroll said the county commissioners’ meetings and planning and zoning commission meetings will continue to be held remotely for an unspecified time. That includes meetings held by the Roaring Fork Valley Regional Planning Commission, which advises the county commissioners on land use matters in the western part of the county. The public can monitor and participate in meetings via video conference.
Mahoney wrote in his report that Basalt will maintain a hybrid system where there are capacity limits for in-person attendance of council meetings by the public and access available remotely.
Both Eagle County and Basalt are working on high-profile issues that would benefit from public gatherings. Basalt has launched its Basalt Forward 2030 initiative where it is taking stock of its facilities and planning for the future. A key part of the process will be getting public input to set priorities. The Town Council will determine if it wants to put a funding question on the ballot in November, so public input will be vital.
Eagle County has launched a process where it is collecting public input on how open land adjacent to Crown Mountain Park in El Jebel should be used in the future. A consultant for the county held “listening sessions” this spring on ideas for future use of 70 acres owned by the U.S. Forest Service and 6 acres owned by the county. The sessions sought input from stakeholders who were invited and members of the public who asked to be included.
A report summarizing the input will be presented to the Eagle County commissioners at their meeting at 2:30 p.m. May 4, Shroll said. Public comment on the uses will be collected as part of the process after the report is released to the commissioners, the county has announced.
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