Basalt council candidates outline plans for Pan and Fork property
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: What do you feel would be the ideal land-use outcome for the Roaring Fork Community Development Corp. property? Be specific about how much parkland and how much development you would like to see and what type of uses.
Bernie Grauer: The Pan and Fork parcel on the river front owned by the Roaring Fork Community Development Corp. should be divided with 1 acre for commercial development, free market housing and affordable housing. The other half would be for additional park. Hopefully development would include a beer garden or riverside restaurant and some nonprofit, like the Art Base, as well. The development half would be next to the Rocky Mountain Institute building, while the open park half would be next to Midland Avenue. That would preserve the “V” viewplane to the river from the town.
Todd Hartley: I’d like to see mixed-use development from RMI to about Midland Spur with separation between that and a new Art Base home. All ground-floor development facing the park should be public serving — ideally a bakery/lunch counter, a watersports shop where people can rent fishing rods, kayaks or SUPs, and a beer garden with a playground or splash zone for kids and spaces for a couple of rotating food trucks. There’s a place in Boulder, The Rayback Collective (www.therayback.com), that is an energetic public space along these lines. There will need to be parking. I’d prefer covered parking to keep the open asphalt to a minimum. The rest of the parcel should stay mostly park space, but I think it would be nice to have a standalone Victorian by the corner of Midland and Two Rivers Road with a new visitor center and bathrooms on the first floor and a second-floor restaurant with a deck overlooking the concert lawn. This would be mostly obscured by trees and wouldn’t ruin the view of the river from downtown.
Carol Hawk: I look forward to seeing the land-use application from the new owner of the CDC parcel. I definitely would like to see more park area and a permanent home for The Art Base. A restaurant and some type of lodging/residential. For now I will leave it to the new owner to put forth an exciting riverfront plan that allows the public to interact with our rivers for years to come and be proud of. I would also like to create a free shuttle that runs from Willits to Old Town to connect our communities and bring a sense of connectedness that does not currently exist. Our bike trails are expanding but to get more cars off the road having the shuttle as an option to food shop, try a new restaurant, indulge in a little retail or spa therapy would make it easier to get all those bundles of goods or the relaxed body home. For more on this issue, see my Facebook page Carol Hawk for Basalt Council.
William Infante: I’ve knocked on about 400 doors over the past couple weeks, and have spoken with 100-plus voters. All have expressed support for some construction on the Pan and Fork parcel, and add that they would also like modest space preserved to safeguard view shed and access to the river.
The overwhelming majority want a place to get together, to have drink or meal, view the river, watch their kids play on the grassy space. After that, I’ve heard preferences expressed for additional mini-retail, a permanent home for the Art Base and/or chamber, and then perhaps something commercial — a boutique hotel or residential units. Store owners and entrepreneurs along Midland strongly favor a space-appropriate hotel that will drive foot traffic.
The Pan and Fork parcel is private, and so I believe that responsibility for designing a combination of elements that respond to the expression of community desire resides with the developer, and that the role of Town Council is to regulate, oversee and license to ensure that the will of the electorate is served.
Ryan Slack: I think we can find a balance between development and additional parkland. We need to preserve approximately 1⁄3 to 1/2 acre of the parcel adjacent to Midland and Two Rivers Road for additional park. This will help to maintain the viewplane and make an inviting entrance from the town center.
For the remainder of property, I would encourage a multi-use development, including office, retail and residential. Citizens have expressed interest in having a community-gathering place and/or a restaurant. I think these are both wonderful ideas but to pay for them we should be willing to accept some type of residential element to make it happen. It would be nice to see the Art Base find a permanent home on the parcel, too. They provide such an amazing service to our town, not only for our children, but also for community members of all ages.
Gary Tennenbaum: An ideal outcome would be for approximately half of the land be park and half development. The development has to be in character with the setting on the river and downtown Basalt. I’m not tied to an exact square footage number, but keep the height very similar to Rocky Mountain Institute. Development should be compatible and fit into the park just like Rocky Mountain Institute and Roaring Fork Conservancy. On uses, we are all waiting to see the proposal from the current option holder on the CDC property. Can uses on Lions Park and the parcel the town owns where the former recycle center was be included? I feel all of it needs to be planned together in this proposed design and then phased to make it financially feasible. Can it provide commercial and nonprofit uses that fit with the downtown character and still be financially feasible? I feel community input into the review process will be critical to see if this proposal can be successful and truly visionary.
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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.