Candidates tackle growth

Editor’s note: As part of our coverage of Basalt’s municipal election, The Aspen Times has asked the two mayoral candidates and five council candidates to share their backgrounds and views on issues that have been on the front burner in Basalt over the past year.

This is the second of four days of questions and answers from each candidate. Today’s question is about growth.

The latest survey of Basalt residents indicated growth was a major concern. Does the town currently have an appropriate level of growth, and what would your philosophy be on growth for the next four years?

Name: Anne Freedman

Position sought: Mayor

Currently Basalt’s rate of building is below the growth rate envisioned in the master plan. However, this lull in growth is deceptive. Because of the economy, developers have been holding off even though they have approvals for a massive amount of growth (over 400,000 square feet in Willits town center plus 400 to 500 residential units in Willits and elsewhere). As soon as the economy picks up, Basalt could see its growth rate skyrocket.

The new council must be very careful in adding any new approvals to those that already exist. In the last year or so proposals have been put forth for 170 residences behind Southside, 150 across from the Lakeside townhomes, 150 near the high school and 350,000 square feet of development on the site of the Roaring Fork Mobile Home Park. This is clearly too much, especially given the fact that residential units do not bring in enough in taxes to pay for the services the town provides for them. Basalt could find itself in a fiscal squeeze if the town continues to grant approvals at the rate it has in the past.

We need to rein in growth. We need to keep the growth there is within the urban growth boundary. The council should not allow any incursions into the rural areas unless the citizens approve them in a referendum.

Name: Leroy Duroux

Position sought: Mayor

The rate of growth in Basalt has declined in the past few years mainly due to the national economy. I believe the current growth rate in Basalt is healthy and falls within the goals of facilitating social capital and maintaining and enhancing diversity in the community.

Webster’s defines growth as the gradual development towards maturity. In my opinion determining what is gradual is the most difficult question. We must first determine what implications the goals set by the town of Basalt will have on the need for growth.

The number one goal of the town at this time is implementation of the river master plan. In order for this goal to be realized, growth will occur. Families need to be relocated to remove them from the dangers that exist because of possible flooding. Redevelopment of safe areas of these properties will result in growth that will help bolster the downtown economy of Basalt.

Having said this, I would say my philosophy on growth for the next four

years would be growth in Basalt should occur only if it:

1. helps accomplish the goals of the town;

2. helps strengthen social capital and community;

3. pays its own way and strengthens the economy;

4. creates opportunities for family businesses to occur.

I strongly believe that the market forces will determine how fast growth will occur.

Name: Glenn Rappaport

Position sought: Council

Vibrant communities are constantly evolving. A governing style that appeals to me encourages subtle adjustments that reflect citizens concerns and the changing times. These adjustments are critical in a strategy for maintaining the vitality that we all enjoy.

I am not pro-growth or anti-growth. I want to make Basalt a workable community and I will support things that contribute to that vision and I will fight the things that do not contribute to that vision.

What is an appropriate level of growth? That is a tough question for a town. Towns that have growth often feel threatened by it, and towns that don’t have it are trying to figure out how to encourage more.

In a practical sense, the appropriate level of growth may be defined as what the acceptable pace for the public is at a certain juncture. Where would growth take place? What form would it take? And is its intended program something that the citizens can support, such as a new bookstore, coffee shop or delicatessen?

Our new master plan is providing a framework for us to refer to when trying to answer many of these questions.

This election may give our community a chance to tell the candidates what its wishes are at this time on the matter of growth ” and not necessarily to elect a person who has made up their mind on this issue.

Name: Jim Paussa

Position sought: Council

My philosophy has three equal parts: environmental health, social health and economic health. A balance of these three items will keep growth at an appropriate level.

Over 1 million square feet of development is approved and unbuilt. We won’t make the decision on how fast that gets built. The market will decide that.

We can’t ignore the growth issue. The wrong council could make changes such as approving many more projects or change the urban growth boundary.

I think there are other factors that will determine how we grow:

1. keeping Basalt pedestrian-friendly;

2. be pro business, diverse, locally owned business;

3. work on river parks;

4. keep citizens involved;

5. focus on issues and not personalities. (That is the adult version of playing nice with the other children.) I really hate it when someone I don’t like has a great idea, but I am adult enough to not let that stand in the way of progress.

There are homes selling for $1 million in Basalt now. I believe the people at that end of the market can take care of themselves. I would like to stay focused on the little guys. I want to keep a place in our town for carpenters and teachers and firemen. That means housing and the ability to start a business.

Diversity in this area ensures a stable “social ecology.” I would be proud to hand over a Basalt to our children that is as enjoyable as this one.

Name: Mark Kittle

Position sought: Council

I think that our level of residential growth is strong but we do need

additional commercial growth to sustain this residential impact. Attracting new business activity and possibly a couple of larger corporate clients to our area is important to our citizens as well as the financial stability of the town.

Name: Bernie Grauer

Position sought: Council

I am not anti-growth nor am I in favor of uncontrolled growth. I am familiar with and strongly support the river master plan. I will support well-planned projects that are consistent with the master plan. I will defend Basalt’s small-town character and encourage efforts that broaden and diversify our economy.

A proper balance of small businesses, which produce sales tax revenues, and residential development, which consumes more services than it pays for, will preserve the town’s character and economic vitality.

I do not favor large chain stores; they do not fit with the small-town vision of Basalt. I support the growth of additional downtown retail shops and businesses to preserve the economic viability of the town’s historic core.

As with all other issues before the council, I would keep an open mind about each project. I will examine the project carefully, listen to citizen input, discuss it with my colleagues on the council, and do what is best for the community.

Name: Laurie Dows

Position sought: Council

The current council has maintained a solid urban growth boundary considering the pressures placed on our town, which, like others across the mountain West, is experiencing explosive population growth and widespread development.

Regardless of what my philosophy is about growth, the fact is that Basalt already has development slated far down the pipeline. Development has been approved for five separate locations that have yet to be completely built out, including Willits, Riverwalk, Southside, Riverside Plaza and the Basalt Business Center East (near Stubbie’s and Bristlecone).

So, as a Basalt councilor, my philosophy will be to keep whatever development is slated to the letter of the Basalt master plan and anything beyond those developments must abide by the plan as well.