Golf club, Basalt council wrestle for upper hand
Members of the exclusive Roaring Fork Club will apparently have to wait to use an extravagant new clubhouse until the owners meet obligations to a few working stiffs.
The Basalt Town Council declined last night to approve a request by club partner Jim Light to allow use of the clubhouse before the club provides affordable housing.
“I think we feel like we’re being leveraged – and it doesn’t feel very good,” Basalt Mayor Rick Stevens told Light.
Original agreements between the town government and the golf club’s partners said 18 units of affordable housing had to be completed before a certificate of occupancy would be issued that allows use of the clubhouse.
But Light asked the council last night to waive that requirement. The justification, he said, was the club is working diligently on a better plan that will provide 22 affordable housing units.
The Roaring Fork Club has been waiting for time on the Town Council agenda for review of that reworked proposal. Light suggested it wasn’t fair to delay the clubhouse opening while the new plan was going through the lengthy review process.
But council members countered that an affordable housing plan was approved long ago. It is the club developers who chose not to pursue that approved plan.
Light and club project manager David Burden ignited an already tense discussion when they informed the council they weren’t willing to accept a proposal that at least four of the affordable housing units be provided at subsidized cost to employees of the midvalley.
“That’s a request that’s so far out of what we could consider,” said Light.
Burden claimed the club’s budget didn’t have funds built in to provide subsidized housing for employees unaffiliated with the golf course.
Councilwoman Anne Freedman also wanted deed restrictions placed on the rents of the 18 units to club employees. Burden assured the board the units would be rented to club employees at a favorable rate.
“Rents will be set at the cost of the sticks and the bricks,” Burden said.
Both Burden and Light requested that the clubhouse be approved for use this fall. Light noted that the clubhouse was already being donated for use by the Taste of Basalt fund-raiser and other public functions.
Councilwoman Jacque Whitsitt accused Light of attempting to paint the board into a corner with “strategic coercion.” She said it wouldn’t work.
“I’m not motivated at all whether your clubhouse is open or not,” said Whitsitt. “I’m motivated by housing for this community.”
Light objected that the town would gain nothing by delaying the opening of the clubhouse. Council members clearly weren’t in the mood to be lobbied further.
“We want to send a very strong message about affordable housing to everyone else who comes before this board,” said Freedman.
Councilman Steve Solomon suggested Light might be best off waiting for a different day to pitch the club’s new employee housing plan and the proposal to open the clubhouse early.
“I think we probably need another meeting on this unless you guys want to risk a vote,” Solomon said.
Light and Burden had no reply.
Another meeting was set for Sept. 14.
Club members, including some who plunked down in excess of $1 million for the 2,500 square-foot luxury “cabins” built with the project, have become accustomed to delays with the clubhouse.
The club’s construction schedule as of Dec. 4, 1996, called for the clubhouse and affordable housing to be completed by Aug. 1, 1998.
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