Basalt urges golf club to chart new course with electric carts
Members of the Roaring Fork Club might roll into Basalt some day on electric golf carts rather than in Hummers, Armadas, sports cars and whatever else they drive.Several Basalt officials are lobbying hard to get the private golf club to take the environmentally friendly giant step of building a path that would allow its members to drive carts into town when they come to shop and dine.The cart path was suggested this week when the Planning and Zoning Commission and Town Council held a joint meeting on the club’s proposal to add nine holes of golf and 24 luxury cabins to its facility east of Basalt. The addition to the course would be built between the existing club and Elk Run subdivision, creating a clear link to town.Planning Commissioner Bill Maron raised the idea for the alternative transportation and was soon joined by other officials. He said it would be a great way to get cars off Highway 82 – even if it’s just a short stretch between the club’s entrances and downtown Basalt.”I, too, would like to see the golf cart idea – not just talked about but something done about it,” said planning Commissioner Gary Wheeler. The alternative form of transportation could help the town tackle traffic and parking issues in the heart of the summer when business in town heats up, he said.The unique idea was first raised in the late 1990s, when the Roaring Fork Club received its initial approvals for 18 holes of golf and 48 luxury cabins from the town of Basalt. Developer Jim Light and his partners touted several environmentally friendly steps the club was taking. Among them was a program designed to get club members to use electric carts to drive to their cabins and circulate internally after they arrived at the property and parked their vehicles in a secured area.Jon Fox-Rubin, a planning commissioner at the time, urged the club to take the concept a step further by building a path into town and persuading members to use it. He said the club was like an island that was separate from the town and that the path could help integrate it.Fox-Rubin recalled recently that he tried to convince Pitkin County to let club members take their carts on an existing pedestrian path that runs between Basalt and the Roaring Fork Club, but county officials were concerned about safety. Light noted at that time that building a new path would be difficult because land would be needed from the Meyers and Kittle families, Fox-Rubin said.Land owned by those families is now being leased for the proposed expansion of the course, so that obstacle seems to have disappeared.Councilman Glenn Rappaport said this week that integrating the Roaring Fork Club into the town should be a prime goal of the expansion. He urged Light to explore ways to establish “fingers of connectivity.”Rappaport said the path for carts could provide one of those fingers. “Encouraging electric transportation rather than the other is something we should be doing,” he said.Light, the managing partner for the developers, made no commitment for the alternative transportation concept at the meeting. He couldn’t be reached yesterday for elaboration of his thoughts about the suggestion.Scott Condon’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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