Town council candidates reveal what Basalt lacks and how to gain it
Editor’s note: There are six candidates for three seats on the Basalt Town Council in the April 3 election. All this week The Aspen Times has run a Q&A forum with the candidates. To see the earlier questions, go to aspentimes.com.
Question: What is Basalt lacking and what role could the council play in helping the town acquire it?
Ryan Slack: Council needs to make sure that we continue to support our current childcare facilities as well as bring more online with our future developments. As a parent of young children, I know how hard it is to find and pay for childcare. Basalt is lacking mountain biking trails. Council could work with the RFMBC to help create new local trails right in our backyard. This would help to draw in people from up and down the valley, that can frequent our restaurants and shops after their rides. Council can work with the chamber and as well as other outside organizations to continue to develop family focused events in downtown Basalt and Willits. Council should make an extra effort to help encourage input on what our community members want. Holding informal monthly gatherings could help generate new ideas from citizens. Council needs to make it a priority to update our master plan. This will help to provide clarity of where our town plans to be in the next 10-20 years.
Gary Tennenbaum: I really love living in Basalt. I am proud to call the town my home and feel we are making huge progress on so many community needs. What still needs energy and commitment from the town is to engage the community on early childcare to find a sustainable funding source. Ensuring open space, parks and trails are expanded and enhanced to protect our rivers and wildlife habitat, provide access to public lands, and provide a level of service in our parks that our citizens want and deserve. Continue working with our schools on funding and resource needs to provide the best education for our children. Engage all folks and our local businesses in town governance through different channels than just town hall meetings. Continue to work with the Chamber and listen to the needs of businesses in town and how the town can help encourage more economic vitality both in Willits, downtown Basalt, and Southside. Encourage more community events in both Willits and downtown to get the community together and support our local businesses.
Bernie Grauer: Basalt lacks a permanent live performance space/theater arts center, which is currently being filled temporarily by “The Temporary” space at Willits. The town council has already invested several hundred thousand dollars of Willits real estate transfer assessments in The Arts Campus at Willits nonprofit in its effort to build a permanent facility. The council should continue to support TACAW in reaching its goal. A permanent base for the performing arts would greatly bolster the town’s vitality and its reputation as being a center for the arts. The council should also continue supporting the Art Base and the Basalt Public Arts Committee in their efforts.
Todd Hartley: What Basalt lacks most are a sense of itself as a whole and reasons to visit Old Town. We tend not to think of ourselves as one town so much as a collection of entities; we’re from Willits or Southside as much as Basalt. To help change this, the council could: 1. Contract with RFTA to run shuttle buses along Two Rivers Road and Willits Lane, making local stops from 7-11 to City Market. 2. Find the funding to build a car-only connection from Big O to the post office to solve future traffic headaches and make Southside more a part of town. 3. Sponsor more and better community events that get people out and meeting their neighbors. This is where giving people a reason to go to Old Town can help. We have the opportunity to do something amazing with the Pan & Fork parcel and the river park, and we need to work better with a developer to make sure we get a world-class space where locals want to hang out and socialize.
Carol Hawk: Basalt needs a party! Our small town is awesome in so many ways. Politics has been so contentious the last few years I believe we have more that unites us than divides us. We need more community gatherings better communication, Salsa dancing. First Friday in Carbondale is wildly successful we can create that here. Town council meetings can be so serious, let’s make them fun. Honoring students of the month is a great event, lets kick it up a notch and create a nice backdrop with the Town Seal and students stand with councilors or the mayor for pictures. Let’s take a few minutes to respond to public comments, create a way to communicate with Town Council outside the meetings. Let’s add some new employees and take the pressure off some departments that are run thin. Let’s look at how we can support Crown Mountain Park and they could support our recreation department. We may not all be in the same town but we are part of the same community. Public works is working out of a facility that pre-dates Willits. They need a new building and the tools to do their job and not sub contract it out. Small town character is supporting all our community members, meeting their needs and providing pride in where they have chosen to live.
William Infante: Basalt is wonderful in almost every way, yet it has substantial scope to forge more constructive inter-governmental relations with the counties and towns that share our valley. Intra- and inter-governmental coordination and cooperation must be enhanced and strengthened among state, county and municipal-level jurisdictions where we have missed opportunities to have a seat at the table where future path for the Roaring Fork Valley is being charted. Consensus must be forged across relevant jurisdictions in order to collaboratively forge a vision that is responsible, appropriate and reflective of the affected communities, and which puts us at the table in the decision-making that directly affects our future, particularly in the planning that is advancing for development of the mid-valley. Cohesion, communication, awareness and outreach can also be further expanded in order to invite public engagement in decision-making, rebuild community spirit and vitality that many remember nostalgically from years past, and promote greater cooperation, coordination and understanding within a community that shares formidable physical, cultural and historic values.
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Kevin Warner started his career with the U.S. Forest Service as a wilderness ranger in 2001. Now he’s taking over the key position as Aspen-Sopris District Ranger.