Golf expansion triggers talk about Basalt’s future |

Golf expansion triggers talk about Basalt’s future

Scott Condon

Roaring Fork Club partner Jim Light touts expansion of the golf development as a way to boost Basalt’s economy without sacrificing its small-town charm.But civic activist Jim Paussa claims the golf club expansion would leave Basalt in the rough. He contends the project would further erode the town’s diversity and increase its dependence on upper-end consumers – factors, he noted, that have plagued Aspen.Basalt planning officials and Town Council members are likely to hear a heavy dose of both views when they start reviewing the club’s expansion proposal later this winter. The Roaring Fork Club submitted its application last week to expand. It currently has an 18-hole golf course and 48 luxury cabins. The golf club is split by Highway 82 on the eastern end of Basalt.In Light’s mind, the expansion will benefit Basalt because it will add nine holes of golf and 24 more cabins.Each cabin will have four membership interests, for a total of 96 additional members. Those buyers will contribute to the economy by shopping and dining out, but they won’t require all the services of a full-time resident, Light said.While adding to the economic base, the project will also help preserve the small-town character by offering a site where residents of the Pan and Fork Mobile Home Park can be relocated, he said. The trailer park, home for 38 families, is located in the flood way – where water in a massive flood would be most destructive. The town wants the residents relocated but doesn’t have the funds to do the job itself.Light and his partners will donate seven acres to the town for construction of up to 34 affordable housing units. The club developers would let the town figure out how to develop the affordable housing.The application makes the case that the land contribution would more than offset the club’s obligation to provide housing for 23 new employees generated by the project.The club partners are leasing land from two longtime ranching families to expand the course. The developers would team with the families of Guido Meyer and Wyland Kittle to develop an additional 13 single-family home lots. Those houses would be of similar size and character to homes in Elk Run, according to Light.In total, the application contemplates the addition of 71 housing units – ranging from 3,200-square-foot luxury cabins to 1,100-square-foot affordable housing units.But Paussa claimed the application really makes Basalt more dependent on the spending habits of well-heeled Roaring Fork Club members. He bemoaned that Basalt attracts only high-end development now instead of projects that benefit the middle class as well.The club’s contribution of seven acres for replacement housing for the trailer park might preserve a part of the town’s diversity, but overall the town will lose ground with the addition of 24 luxury cabins, Paussa said.He claimed the town is in danger of becoming a one-dimensional suburb of Aspen – a place of exclusive developments that cater only to wealthy consumers. He said it’s hard to imagine a carload of ski bums rolling into Basalt for a good time. “It’s not a hip mountain town,” he said.Paussa was part of a group that started a petition drive in opposition to the golf club expansion. The organizers got sidetracked during the campaign and the group’s status is somewhat unknown, Paussa acknowledged.The town planning staff is still reviewing the club’s application to see if additional information is required. Once the application is deemed complete, the planning commission will hold hearings before making a recommendation to the Town Council, which has the final say on the project.Scott Condon’s e-mail address is