Councilwoman in Basalt has open-space blues | AspenTimes.com

Councilwoman in Basalt has open-space blues

Aspen Times Staff Report

A Basalt councilwoman expressed frustration Tuesday night over the town government’s inactivity on property it purchased for open space.

Councilwoman Anne Freedman told her colleagues that she felt the board needs to show the public that it is making good on a pledge to turn the Levinson property into a town park and provide access to the Roaring Fork River.

The Levinson property was the town government’s first major open-space purchase earlier this year. The town spent $2.2 million for six acres. The money came from a new open-space property tax that voters approved last November.

Freedman said the town should issue the final eviction notice to four residential tenants, remove their residences and start the conversion of the property. One cabin and three mobile homes are located on the site.

Mayor Rick Stevens said speedy action had to be balanced with fair treatment for the tenants – and Freedman quickly agreed. Stevens said the town has the obligation to set a precedent on how landowners treat tenants being displaced by development. A new town code requires replacement of all affordable housing.

Freedman stressed she wasn’t suggesting that the town leave the tenants “high and dry.” She noted that the town has agreed to offer them other affordable housing opportunities and will reimburse the owners of the three trailers for their property, if the trailers cannot be relocated.

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The town has paid for appraisals of the trailers but it hasn’t disclosed the results. The council members decided to revisit the Levinson property issues at their next meeting on July 23 and determine a plan of action and timetable.

Left unresolved was the fate of four businesses, including one of Basalt’s most popular restaurants – Taqueria el Nopal. The town plans to redevelop the half of the Levinson property closest to Two Rivers Road. That will displace the businesses – the restaurant, a video store and two auto-oriented services.

Proceeds from the sale of the land to a developer will go back to the open space fund.