Basalt candidates outline plans for adding downtown parking
Editor’s note: There are six candidates for three seats on the Basalt Town Council in the April 3 election. The Aspen Times will run a Q&A forum with the candidates Monday through Friday this week.
Question: Downtown Basalt faces a shortage of parking at times. Where would you add parking and how would you fund it?
Todd Hartley: There will have to be some public parking added with any Pan and Fork development. If possible, this should be covered to reduce the amount of open asphalt. We should add as many angled spaces along Two Rivers Road as we can, too. I would also talk with the developer about doing a swap for the old recycling center lot (Merino Park). In exchange for the lot we could maybe have the developer reroute (or vacate) the downvalley end of Midland Spur, build us a new three-story town hall on the existing town hall site, tear down the current Art Base building (which will hopefully be redundant) and include expanded parking as part of a remaking of the downvalley side of Lions Park. Any other solutions will be dependent upon what happens with Basalt Center Circle and the old Clark’s Market building. That parking lot is owned by seven people, so it won’t be easy to sort out, but a net gain of public parking spaces will need to be part of any redevelopment.
Carol Hawk: New parking may need to go underground. I understand that it is an expensive option but hopefully it will be incorporated into any new construction in downtown Basalt. Currently, there is two-hour limited parking in downtown but it does not appear to be enforced and people are parking for the entire day. I would like to see a community safety officer dedicated to enforcing downtown parking. In addition to parking enforcement I would like to see a community safety officer assigned to walk the sidewalks and parks of downtown and Willits every day to create a relationship between our peace officers and our community. This could also help with two big issues: people need to slow down on our streets and pick up their dog’s poop in our parks. I would like to see a satellite police station in Willits, as well. Town now owns a retail space in Willits that would make a great location for a shared space between the Basalt Police and maybe a Basalt Chamber welcome center. For more on this issue, check out my Facebook page, Carol Hawk for Basalt Council.
William Infante: Parking is problematic at certain times of day in the Midland corridor of Old Town. And while short-term remedies, such as more strict enforcement of the two-hour limit, encouraging employees to use more distant lots, negotiating access to more spots behind Riverwalk and others could provide some respite, they don’t constitute a long-term solution.
Basalt’s master plan was last reviewed and revised more than a decade ago, when downtown and all of Basalt looked much different. Looking forward, let’s work to conceive a strategy and vision for the town as preface to the master plan revision that will take place later this year. Addressing parking in the context of longer-term strategy and planning will yield more progressive, and hopefully more sustainable and environmentally sound solutions to growing demand for parking.
Ryan Slack: Parking issues could be improved by enforcing the two-hour parking limit in downtown. We should also work with the Riverwalk building to open some of their spaces behind their building, as this lot never appears to be full.
The town should work with developers to ensure that we exceed the required parking spots for any new development. This could be paid for by charging for daily parking passes downtown, as well as adding parking development into the infrastructure budget.
In the summer, we should encourage parking in the middle school and elementary school, as their lots are empty during this time.
Gary Tennenbaum: First, in the revision of the master plan for Basalt a parking study for downtown should be revisited to determine the real needs for parking with current uses. Then add potential development to the models to see the parking needs in the future. Ideas for adding parking are when the redevelopment of the old Clark’s Market building happens, it should include a public parking structure and the town work with the future developer on funding strategies. Ensure adequate parking along Two Rivers Road for any development of the Community Development Corp. parcel. Continue to enforce the 2-hour limit to avoid commuter parking in the downtown core.
Bernie Grauer: I don’t think the intermittent parking shortage downtown currently justifies paid parking or a public parking garage. I do support the active enforcement of the current two-hour parking limit. The easiest way to free up more downtown parking would be to institute paid parking, which would also be the least expensive, since it would actually generate revenue. I don’t think that we need to go there at this time. I would require a scientific survey or referendum showing a majority of residents favor it before considering paid parking. The most significant addition to parking would be from a below-ground or above-ground parking structure. These cost millions and would require bonding and a tax vote. Unless a commercial partner could be found to share the cost, I would not support a parking structure at this time.
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Basalt officials are determined to try to get the growth equation right — striking a balance between being too restrictive and ending up with problems like Aspen or being too lax and destroying the midvalley quality of life.