Basalt mayor says, enough!
Basalt Mayor Rick Stevens is questioning if regional cooperation in government is working in the Roaring Fork Valley and he cast doubt Wednesday on whether he will stay in office much longer to find out.
Stevens seemed particularly outspoken at Tuesday’s Town Council meeting, first angrily criticizing Eagle County government for its planning at the Mount Sopris Tree Farm and later uncharacteristically rebuking a midvalley citizen for her comments on a development proposal.
When a reporter asked the following day how his treatment of the citizen, who lives outside of Basalt, matches the message of regional cooperation that Stevens consistently conveys, the mayor responded he was uncertain how successful regionalism has been.
“Where has it really gotten us?” he asked.
Stevens noted that Basalt’s multiyear efforts to work with Eagle County on a parks and recreation plan for the tree farm have failed, regional transportation planning suffered a setback in Aspen’s elections earlier this month, and agreements with Eagle and Pitkin counties on land use planning have gone nowhere.
He said he will stick with regional planning efforts, but there has to be an honest assessment on what’s been accomplished. Regional cooperation was a major thrust of former Aspen Mayor John Bennett.
Stevens said the time has come for Basalt to work to improve its own plight on issues like transportation while continuing to work on regional approaches with other governments.
When asked if he will seek another term as mayor next April, Stevens said it was unlikely.
“No, I don’t think so,” he said, though he noted he’s received lots of encouragement to run again. “I think it’s time for other members of the community to step up.”
Stevens was elected as a Town Council member, technically called a trustee, in April 1994. He was appointed mayor in June 1994 after the resignation of Patrick Collins. He was re-elected in 1996 and the term expires in April 2000.
Four of six town council positions are also up for election. Stevens said he’s encouraged Basalt citizens to get involved, but has found few takers so far.
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The city of Aspen is contributing $1 million to a CDOT project that will see concrete instead of asphalt at the roundabout into town.