Candidate hangs enviro stance on (clothes) line |

Candidate hangs enviro stance on (clothes) line

Virtually every candidate for elected office lays claim to being an environmentalist.

They all love the animals. They all cherish nature. We all know that.

But one candidate in the race for Basalt trustee is carving out a niche by proposing some specific, unique ideas on the environmental front.

Basaltines would be able to let their drawers wave in the wind, let their organic rubbish ferment outside and drive their golf carts into town if candidate Jonathan Fox-Rubin gets his way.

He touted the ideas as ways to “make the town more environmentally benign.”

The three candidates for mayor and seven running for four trustee seats were quizzed on their environmental positions at a recent candidates forum by current Basalt Councilman Chris Lane, regarded as an ardent environmentalist.

Fox-Rubin stuck his neck out farther than any other candidate by proposing specific ideas – something other than controlling growth to preserve the town’s remaining open spaces.

He said one of his “big issues” if elected would be to pass rules that let Basalt residents establish compost piles in their yards.

“Everyone who wants to compost should be allowed to and their covenants shouldn’t preclude them from doing so,” he said. “It’s a pet peeve of mine.”

Composting is a popular way to reduce garbage while creating rich top soil. Some homeowners associations oppose it for fear compost piles smell and attract rodents.

Fox-Rubin also wants to restore residents’ right to hang laundry outside on a line to dry – another no-no in the eyes of many homeowners associations. Some associations feel it degrades their neighborhood when underwear and other clothes flap in the breeze.

Fox-Rubin said it’s a great way to conserve energy. Clothes dryers are probably the second highest energy consumer in most homes, he said.

Many solutions to environmental issues are simple things that society used to take for granted, like hanging laundry out on a line, Fox-Rubin said. “Our modern-day conveniences have kind of made us forget about those.”

Another of his proposals was to pass an ordinance that would let people use their golf carts or electric-powered vehicles on Basalt pedestrian and bike paths.

“Neighborhood electric vehicles are becoming more and more commonplace in the United States,” said Fox-Rubin. “I would like to pass an ordinance, if possible, that allows people in the Roaring Fork Club to bring neighborhood electric vehicles into town, maybe with a special easement along the bike path, so they don’t have to jump in their sport utility vehicles every time they come to the Bistro.”

Fox-Rubin practices what he preaches when it comes to environmentalism. He is currently vice president of business development at Hypercar Inc., a new Basalt-based firm that’s trying to make automobiles more energy-efficient. Prior to that, he was a researcher analyzing air-pollution problems.

The candidate also plugged the existing Basalt Town Council for its stance last winter on eliminating use of magnesium chloride as a de-icer on roadways. The town curtailed its own use of the substance and unsuccessfully tried to get the Colorado Department of Transportation to knock it off within town boundaries.

Council members claimed too little is known about the substance’s effects on the environment.

“Common sense to me dictates things like synthetic compounds should be guilty until proven innocent in a biological environment,” Fox-Rubin said. “I think the town was very proactive in really considering the mag chloride issue way before many other communities.”

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