Basalt’s cash cow is waiting
Dollar for taxpayer dollar, the River Park is the best financial investment that Basalt could make to provide terrific economic stimulation to all Basalt merchants almost immediately. We just saw how a weekend lacrosse tournament at Crown Park provided Basalt merchants with an estimated 3,500, mostly out-of-Basalt visitors. The River Park, due to its location and being on the edge of the commercial core, is an even more spectacular venue and would be in high demand to host entertainment, concerts and large fair-type events drawing guests from all over the state. People would walk to all the businesses in the area.
Imagine the simulation to all business and commercial owners in Basalt by having 10 events with 750 to 2,000 people each!
The park could be completed and event-ready by July 2018 and be one of the most preferred large-event venues in the valley, targeting events that cater to 750 to 2,000 people each. From 2018 and forward, the 2.75-acre expanded and grass-sodded River Park would be Basalt’s darling outdoor event cash cow on the river. Forever Basalt can make this happen without raising property taxes.
The Willits event venue is scheduled to be event ready July 2022. It is now moving through the approval process, will dovetail nicely hosting different event sizes. As proposed, it will have 350 indoor seats and serve mostly the surrounding immediate communities. That venue is projected to cost an additional $8 million, to be financed from a variety of funding sources.
Buying the remainder of the River Park should be a top priority for the Basalt council to get this venue done so it can start supporting business owners. The River Park would give Basalt the vitality it needs and that businesses have been asking for. It could be financed using parks and open space sales tax money that needs to be spent on parks, trails and open space projects. No property taxes need to be raised.
Hopefully council does not screw up this golden opportunity by allowing “camouflaged condos” the proposed developer is calling a “condo hotel” on the Roaring Fork Development Corp. parcel. Allowing the condos would make much of the public park feel like an amenity and backyard of the private, exclusive, elitist condos. It also would diminish Basalt’s ability to hold the large events that would make Basalt into the town that serves the public.
Condos would line the pockets of a select few. We moved 33 trailers and about 350 low-income people from this site. Allowing condos would be the ultimate hypocrisy and theft from the average Basalt resident. Condos and a hotel should go on the Clark’s Market site.
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Kevin Warner started his career with the U.S. Forest Service as a wilderness ranger in 2001. Now he’s taking over the key position as Aspen-Sopris District Ranger.