Basalt, Eagle County vow to work together to midvalley’s benefit
Elected officials from Basalt and Eagle County vowed this week to bump their partnership up a notch and aim to achieve a couple of major goals in areas such as affordable housing, land use or transportation.
The Eagle County commissioners and the Basalt Town Council held a joint meeting for the first time since all three commissioners’ seats and half of the Basalt seats turned over. The three county commissioners are Kathy Chandler Henry and Jeanne McQueeney, both elected last year, and Jill Ryan, who is in the middle of her first term.
Basalt Town Manager Mike Scanlon set the tone by saying the two governments must work together to make sure midvalley residents are receiving the best services possible.
“When you call 911, you don’t care who comes as long as someone comes,” he said.
Only a sliver of the Roaring Fork Valley is in Eagle County, including most of Basalt, all of the El Jebel area and parts of the Fryingpan Valley and Missouri Heights. The county seat in Eagle is a 55-mile drive from Basalt, so coordination between the governments has worked better on paper than in reality over the years.
Basalt officials requested Tuesday’s meeting because they are concerned about the effects of growth in unincorporated Eagle County. Councilman Bernie Grauer said he hopes they all strive for “smart growth” development that is transit oriented, clustered and preserves open space in contrast to suburban sprawl.
The elected officials noted that the goals of both governments, which were written on poster boards hanging on the wall in Basalt Town Council chambers, were nearly identical. They decided to work together to accomplish some of the goals in 2015.
Eagle County hired the former city manager of Westminster on Wednesday to be the next country manager. Brent McFall, 63, takes the post March 9. Once he settles in, the staffs of the two governments will meet to select a handful of potential topics to pursue. The commissioners and council members will convene again later in the year, set priorities and chose two or three to work on. They decided Pitkin County also will be invited to the table.
Basalt Mayor Jacque Whitsitt said she hopes to see the governments take a regional approach to problem solving like they have with funding and oversight of the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority.
After the meeting, Whitsitt said working on solutions to joint problems would benefit midvalley residents. “What are we going to do that puts us on one page so we aren’t against one another?” she said.
The meeting didn’t include a discussion about the Tree Farm project in the El Jebel area. Eagle County is reviewing the request for as many as 400 residences and 134,558 square feet of commercial space. It’s across Highway 82 from Whole Foods.
The county commissioners said they couldn’t discuss the project because it’s under review. However, Chandler Henry, the chair of the board of commissioners, said midvalley residents will see a lot of Eagle County officials in El Jebel for hearings on the project. Hearings haven’t been scheduled yet.
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