Basalt is thinking big on community projects over 10 to 20 years |

Basalt is thinking big on community projects over 10 to 20 years

Funding for effort might be sought in November

One project that has been envisioned in Basalt is a pedestrian bridge from the library park across the Roaring Fork River to the Basalt River Park. This view is from the library park.
Scott Condon/The Aspen Times

Basalt Town Council wants to convince residents that the time is ripe to invest in some high-profile projects to enhance the community.

The town government wants to collect input from the public on what projects to pursue and potentially ask them to provide funding in a November election.

“We’re not reactive. We’re being proactive with what we can do for the town,” Councilman Gary Tennenbaum said at Tuesday night’s council meeting.

“This could be really fun and this is what I’ve always wanted to do with government,” he later added.

The initiative is dubbed Basalt Forward 2030 because it would look at what the community wants over the next 10 to 20 years.

The town has bonds that will be retired in 2021 and 2023. They are being paid off by property taxes. Once those bonds are retired, the town could ask voters to maintain those tax rates at current levels — with no increase — to raise $11 million to $14 million, according to Town Manager Ryan Mahoney. Projects would be phased as funds are available, though the town could also borrow while interest rates are low.

The town government’s past work on a master plan and strategic plan identified some potential projects. One of the highest-profile possibilities is a pedestrian bridge across the Roaring Fork River connecting the Basalt River Park near downtown to the Basalt Library Park. A rough estimate is $1 million.

Other projects include construction of a child development center for $2 million, Midland Avenue streetscape enhancement for $2 million, and parking improvements downtown and at Willits for $4 million.

“The costs are really back-of-napkin costs,” Mahoney said. “More work needs to be done in that realm.”

The master plan also outlined general projects, without costs, such as build a significant affordable housing project, creating a connector shuttle between downtown and Willits and develop the Clark’s Market parcel.

Mayor Bill Kane said citizen engagement would be key “to make sure we’re on track.” The town is contemplating a community survey, in-person sessions as allowed by COVID-19 regulations, digital gatherings and special committee sessions.

The council gave informal approval for a draft budget of $82,000 for the process. That would include costs for a public engagement effort and election costs.

“It sounds like we’re on a good track here. We’re all supportive of the idea,” Kane said.

It will require an aggressive process to meet a goal of approaching voters in November. Ballot questions have to be set by Sept. 3 for the Nov. 2 election.

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