Levinson to become riverside park | AspenTimes.com

Levinson to become riverside park

Steve Benson

A new riverside park proposed for the Levinson property in Basalt will undergo construction this spring following the Town Council’s approval of the first phase of the project Tuesday night.

It passed on a 6-1 vote, with outgoing councilwoman Jacque Whitsitt dissenting.

The park, which would be built between Two Rivers Road and the Roaring Fork River, would include boat and angler access, demonstration and interpretation areas, flood protection measures, and enhancements to the existing Levinson Pond. The total cost of the project is estimated at $1 million.

One casualty of the project will be the current location of Taqueria el Nopal, a popular Mexican eatery.

Although the park was identified in the town’s 1999 Master Plan, and in the 2002 River Stewardship Plan, the Roaring Fork Conservancy and members of the community criticized the council for moving too hastily.

“We would like to see the environmental issues addressed,” Jeanne Beaudry, director of the conservancy, said during the meeting. “That’s our mission, we’re supposed to be the voice for the river.

“I wish we had a little more time to work things out.”

But as far as funding for the project is concerned, time is running out.

Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) granted $482,000 to the town to help finance the project, but if the money isn’t used by April 2005, GOCO will revoke the award.

“We’re at a point in time where we have to decide,” Basalt Mayor Rick Stevens said. “I’d like us to take a little chance here and get this thing built.”

“It is a push, it feels that way because it is,” Betsy Suerth, Basalt’s deputy town manager said. “This is not a luxurious four-month approval process.”

While Beaudry expressed her desire to see the park built, she was concerned that several issues were not being addressed, such as the impact cutting down several trees will have on the wildlife and vitality of the river.

Councilman Jonathan Fox-Rubin offered a solution: “Maybe we should just change our formula here, put more flexibility into that thinking.”

John Wenzel from the town’s public works department said less than 10 trees would be removed, and it would not be significant.

Many were also concerned with the details of the engineering behind the project, such as considerations of the flood plain and the handling of storm water. Stevens and members of the council said those issues will be dealt with in the coming months as the second phase of the project undergoes review.

Phase one will include the basic groundbreaking – just enough to get the project on its feet – while the second phase would include the major details.

“Phase two is going to be examined as we go along,” Stevens said.

Steve Benson’s e-mail address is sbenson@aspentimes.com

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