Don’t be steamrolled
December 11, 2007
From: Anne Freedman, Basalt
Although I previously warned that Basalt was now in the big time and could expect hardball tactics from developers, I was still somewhat surprised and dismayed by the expensive professional campaign being mounted by the Willits developers.
Under the direction of the Chicago firm, which is now the lead partner in the development, the onslaught began with full-page ads in The Aspen Times and the Aspen Daily News. According to the newspapers, two such full-page ads cost close to $1,500. Obviously, the private citizens who oppose the developers’ proposals are not in a position to match these ads.
The Chicago firm also hired a four-person public relations team headed by Tim Belinski.
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That team has been the architect of a series of letters and calls for meetings supporting the Whole Foods application. While I am sure there are a number of sincere advocates of Whole Foods, some of the supporters may have been prodded by the developers into taking action.
Under the circumstances it would seem the only way the Town Council can get an honest reading of public opinion would be to do its own random sample telephone survey of the electorate.
I hope the Town Council is not steamrolled into making a decision that will pay off for the developers and Whole Foods, but end up costing the taxpayers of Basalt and Eagle County large sums of money. The council needs to take a hard look at exactly what Whole Foods and the developers are offering, or rather, not offering.