Citizens’ group to take reins of midvalley county study
A midvalley citizens’ group took the reins Wednesday night ofa study to see if county boundaries should be changed, but memberspurposefully delayed making any decisions. About 60 people showed up at a meeting organized by the BasaltTown Council to see if there was any interest in getting the midvalleyout of Eagle County. The majority of speakers indicated they want the Basalt and ElJebel areas to somehow gain political clout. Some audience memberssuggested that could be achieved by staying in Eagle County anddemanding more say. Others clearly wanted out. Longtime Basalt area resident Tom Newland said Eagle County alwaysprovided good services for his neighborhood – better, in fact,than Basalt has since his property was annexed by the town. But Newland expressed an interest in leaving Eagle and joiningPitkin County for philosophical reasons. “I look at Pitkin County and where they’re going and that appealsmore to me,” said Newland. Basalt resident Becky Macuen countered that she doesn’t want tosee the town turn into its upvalley neighbor. “Aspen II – that’s what I feel like we ought to put on the signs[at the Basalt town boundary],” Macuen said. She complained that the Basalt Town Council doesn’t really representtown residents and is adopting too many Aspen-style policies.If the council members are facing difficulties with Eagle Countyofficials, they should try to work out those problems rather thanlead a secession effort, she said. Outright support for Eagle County was voiced by El Jebel residentBonnie Williams. She said the technology of today makes communicationeasier with the county seat, even though it’s 60 miles away inEagle. “It isn’t that far,” she said. “Wait until you go for jury duty,” responded an unidentified woman.Missouri Heights resident Royal Laybourn said he sensed many peoplein this sliver of Eagle County want more say in land-use decisions.Maybe that can be accomplished without changing county lines,he suggested. Diana Bartlett, a resident of unincorporated Eagle County, saidmidvalley residents need to enter the study with a commitmentto pursue the common good. She urged people to avoid divisiveness.”I love this place where I live, and I love the people,” Bartlettsaid, striking a chord with many in the audience. She cautioned that Eagle County’s direction will be heavily dictatedby the needs of the Interstate 70 corridor, which may be differentfrom the Roaring Fork Valley portion’s needs. “We have an alignment here,” Bartlett said, referring to the RoaringFork Valley. “We have interests that are the same.” Enough crowd members agreed that 18 residents volunteered to participateon a committee that will start studying whether adjustments shouldbe made to county lines. The committee’s next meeting in abouttwo weeks will be open to the public. A specific date wasn’t set.Elected officials from Basalt stayed off the committee to makesure the effort advances or dies based on citizens’ involvement.
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