Basalt Town Council blesses expansion of St. Vincent Catholic Church

The rectory (left) and garage belonging to St. Vincent Catholic Church in Basalt will be torn down to create space for a 2,400-square-foot addition.
Scott Condon/The Aspen Times

St. Vincent Catholic Church in Basalt received the Town Council’s blessing Tuesday night to proceed with a 2,400-square-foot expansion.

The council voted to approve the first reading of an ordinance that allows demolition of a rectory adjacent to the church and the addition of space that will be used for youth education classes and gathering space for parishioners after services. A second reading and public hearing are required. The church is located on Midland Avenue.

The “primary driver” for the expansion is getting the education classes moved from the basement, said the church’s representative, Pat McMahon. A stairwell and fire escape are located on the same side of the basement.

“Our main motivation is safety of the kids,” McMahon said. “We want them out of the basement.

“Really, we don’t anticipate any change in our operations,” he added.

To create space for the addition, the rectory and a garage on the western side of the church will be torn down. A parish priest hasn’t used the rectory as a residence for several years. The rectory has been rented but is currently vacant, except for a colony of bats.

The parish has agreed to provide a new home for the winged residents.

“The idea is to get the bats out of the house before it’s demolished so they’re not harmed,” said James Lindt, assistant planning director for Basalt.

The parish will install one-way bat doors prior to demolition as well as bat boxes elsewhere on the property. Once the bats depart the rectory after the doors are installed, they won’t be able to re-enter. In theory, they will relocate to the new bat boxes. The relocation of the bats was recommended by the Basalt Planning and Zoning Commission.

McMahon said it wasn’t feasible to preserve the facade of the Victorian house and incorporate it into the design of the addition. He believes the structure would collapse if there were an attempt to move any part of it.

“I’ve been in the building,” he said. “It’s been in pretty sad shape.”

The application was approved 6-0. Councilman David Knight recused himself because he is a member of the parish and didn’t want to create an appearance of a conflict.

St. Vincent was a French priest who was dedicated to relief of the poor and was known as, “The Father of the Poor,” according to Catholic Online.