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Basalt library board finally has plans for new facilities

The Basalt Town Council hopes to learn by the end of March whether the Basalt Regional Library District wants to buy land at the Levinson property for a new facility.

The town has offered to sell a 15,000-square-foot parcel for $300,000. The library district’s board of directors hasn’t responded to the offer. However, a representative of the board made it clear at a council meeting Tuesday night that the Levinson property is pivotal in the district’s plans.

Sherry Dorward, a member of the planning and architectural firms working with the library district, said the library directors are leaning toward a plan to build a main facility at Levinson and a “secondary” facility at Willits in West Basalt.

The district’s intent is to go to voters in November seeking approval of bonding to build the facilities. Dorward said up to 20,000 square feet could be accommodated at Levinson although it wouldn’t necessarily be built all at once. It is yet to be determined if a facility at Willits would be built immediately or as demand grows.

The Levinson property is located west of downtown Basalt, where the Taqueria el Nopal restaurant is located.

Library director Peter Frey noted that the board had unanimously passed a resolution favoring a facility at Levinson and one at Willits as the need arises. Given the history of battling among board members over the site selection, reaching consensus on the direction “is no small accomplishment,” Frey noted.

The board has been trying to select a site for two years.

Basalt Mayor Rick Stevens congratulated the library board for ironing out its differences.

“That needed to be fixed before you went to the public because that would have cratered it immediately,” he said.

Stevens said the library board must also rush to decide formally if it wants to buy Levinson property from the town government. The land was bought with open space funds. The portion of the property by the Roaring Fork River will be turned into a community park.

The portion by Two Rivers Road will be developed ? possibly with a library, a new center for the Roaring Fork Conservancy and free-market commercial space.

Funds from the sale of land slated for development will be returned to the open space fund.

Stevens said the town is getting pressure from inquisitive developers and from open space proponents to get moving on the Levinson projects. That requires the library district to decide on its direction.

Dorward said the library district plans to hold a public planning session sometime in February. After that, the library board can work out details of what services and amenities the library or libraries should include, and determine preliminary design.

Those steps will dictate how much space is needed at Levinson, she said. The library district will try to respond to the town with a counterproposal for Levinson at the end of March, according to Dorward.

[Scott Condon’s e-mail address is scondon@aspentimes.com]


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