Basalt town manager will go back to being citizen Kane |

Basalt town manager will go back to being citizen Kane

Scott CondonThe Aspen TimesAspen, CO, Colorado

BASALT – Bill Kane is retiring as town manager of Basalt to spend more time hiking, biking, skiing and fishing with his wife, Carolyn.Kane, 66, said Wednesday that he will resign effective Aug. 24 and will work “part time” as a principal with Design Workshop, the Aspen architecture, urban design and planning firm where he previously worked.Kane has been in the town manager’s post since March 2009. In response to a question about whether dissatisfaction with the town government or Town Council played any role in his departure, he replied, “None whatsoever.””This decision is driven 100 percent by personal priorities,” he later added. “I’m at a stage in life where it’s time to kick back a little bit.”Kane said he considered retirement from Town Hall when his third-year anniversary rolled around in March. He delayed it because the timing didn’t work, in his mind, right before an election for mayor and three council posts. Now the new council is established, and its members have six weeks to look for a successor before he departs.Nevertheless, he leaves the town government at a critical time. Basalt still is struggling through a slow recovery from the recession. Sales tax revenues remain anemic. The opening of Whole Foods Market in mid-August will help spur sales tax growth, and it is expected to trigger another round of commercial growth, in existing and new spaces, in Willits Town Center.Two applications for major projects closer to the downtown core are close to being submitted. One is the redevelopment of the Pan & Fork Mobile Home Park with a mixed-use project combining commercial spaces, residences and offices for nonprofit organizations. Another is a senior-care facility in the Southside neighborhood.Kane helped plant the seeds for both projects and said he is comfortable with the status of them because he recently hired Bill Maron as a senior planner to concentrate exclusively on their review. However, the nonprofit developers of both projects contend that they need quick approvals. The Roaring Fork Community Development Corp. needs approvals on the Pan & Fork for financial reasons, its representatives have said. The Aspen Valley Medical Foundation must have approvals by next year, or it loses its option on the land.Basalt is known for lengthy reviews of land-use applications, though Kane has helped create a streamlined process for these projects.Kane also helped the Rocky Mountain Institute secure a site in Basalt where it plans on relocating.He said he couldn’t point to any one event as a highlight of his tenure in office. The cumulative experience was rewarding, he said.Basalt Mayor Jacque Whitsitt said Kane has a “huge range” of contacts all over the valley and that led to the medical foundation and Rocky Mountain Institute’s looking at Basalt. He is an honest and straightforward guy whom everybody likes and trusts, she said.”I’m disappointed but not surprised,” Whitsitt said of Kane’s departure.”He’s wanted to do more retirement fun.”She said she didn’t believe there was any dissatisfaction on Kane’s part with town government. “He’s at the age where he needs to hurry up and have fun,” Whitsitt said.Kane has worked with Design Workshop twice previously. He was a partner with the firm from 1985 until October 1996, when he joined Aspen Skiing Co. as a vice president in charge of planning. He rejoined Design Workshop in October 2005 as a principal providing assistance on special projects.In his new role, he will be a principal working as necessary, but he stressed that he will take plenty of time off for outdoor pursuits and travels.”Carolyn and I plan to stay in Basalt for the long-term future,” Kane said in his letter of resignation. “While I am leaving my post at the town, we intend to stay active in community affairs. I look forward to offering help in my capacity as a civilian and am no stranger to volunteerism. My plan is to not miss many more powder days, the green drake hatch or long summer hikes, which I have deferred over the past few years.”

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