Crown Mountain vs. Basalt recreation
The Aspen Times has recently run an article and editorial which both seem based on a myth that the Crown Mountain Park and Recreation District (Tree Farm) was created to pay for Basalt’s current recreation program. The record shows that not to be true.
First, Crown Mountain District operates according to a service plan that details what the district will and will not do. The state requires such plans prior to creation of the district and after its approval so that taxpayers can be assured that their funds are being used for the purposes approved by voters.
As a member of the Planning and Zoning Commission when the district was approved, I worked to make sure that voters had enough information to review an honest proposal with clear duties. The service plan states, “The district is proposed as a means of financing development, maintenance and management of the Tree Farm Property.”
Nowhere in the service plan is taking over financial responsibility for Basalt’s recreation program listed as a goal or authority. In fact, the service plan denies such a purpose. It states, “The current financial plan does not include resources for planning and management of existing recreation programs.”
I was very interested in this language at the time as I felt it was important for taxpayers to know whether they were “buying a new house or refinancing the old house and adding an addition.” The service plan is clearly for the former. The voters embraced building a new park, and work has begin to implement that plan.
If the district wishes to take on existing recreation programs, then at a minimum they need to make a significant amendment to the service plan. If the directors of the district fulfill their responsibility to voters rather than Basalt elected officials, they should take such a significant change in purpose to the voters.
It seems doubtful that a significant property tax increase to fund existing Basalt recreation programs would have passed. Too many voters remember Basalt’s claims during their “flagpole annexation” of El Jebel that they were doing it so that the 2 percent sales tax we paid on groceries would fund recreation programs that benefited people throughout the midvalley area.
Please remember in future articles and editorials that voters did not create the Crown Mountain District to fund existing Basalt recreation programs. It will take 20 years to fully develop the Tree Farm master plan and operate new programs there. The district board should make that its sole purpose.
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