Mayoral candidates weigh in on Basalt’s South Side neighborhood |

Mayoral candidates weigh in on Basalt’s South Side neighborhood

Glenn Rappaport / Jacque Whitsitt

BASALT – Basalt voters will choose a mayor and three Town Council members in the April 3 election. This week, The Aspen Times is asking a series of questions to mayoral candidates Glenn Rappaport and Jacque Whitsitt.

Profiles of the six council candidates and their answers to questions will run March 26-30.

In addition, the Basalt Chamber of Commerce will host a candidates’ forum from 6 to 8 Tuesday in the community meeting room of the Basalt Library. The candidates will be there at 5:30 p.m. for a meet-and-greet.

Today’s question is: The town anticipates receiving an application for a continued living complex for seniors in the South Side neighborhood. The town government has talked for years about creating better connectivity to the South Side. What’s your vision and how will you make it happen?

Basalt Town Council and many in the community have known for years that the pedestrian crossing at the entrance to town is very dangerous, daunting and inhibits a feeling of community between the South Side of Basalt and the Basalt core. It has been no surprise that patience is growing thin on the issue of a grade-separated pedestrian crossing at the Basalt Park and Ride and Highway 82. This has to rise to the top of the priorities in order to become reality. A couple of passionate trail supporters and I tackled a similar and even more financially overwhelming task when connecting the Rio Grande Trail to the Pitkin County trail. In 2003, we convinced the RFTA board to make a commitment to find the financing and finish the Rio Grande Trail by “date certain.” That date certain was 2010 and we finished the trail in 2008 by sheer will and consistent pressure on everyone involved. These kinds of projects are what inspire me to mobilize partners and leverage dollars to make visions a reality. Between the town manager and me, we have the contacts, leadership and tenacity to see this project through. We will establish that “date certain” and deliver the project. There are other connectivity and capital projects that we can tackle the same way. What a fabulous legacy to leave Basalt!

It’s clear that the Continuous Care Retirement Community Proposal (CCRC) could contribute greatly to the diversity of our social fabric. As mayor, I would be excited to explore ways of fully integrating the project into our community. Are there possible overlaps with day care, where older folks could provide child care for working families, while getting to know their younger neighbors and gaining a sense of purpose? Might we integrate housing nearby that would be attractive to new families with younger children, as well as mixed-use? In the past there have been a number of solutions and locations discussed regarding safe passage over or under Highway 82 from the South Side to the downtown core, grade separated solutions that include a “local” street, as well as options that only accommodate bikes and pedestrians. The best way to make progress is to continue to clarify and prioritize the choices and build consensus around a final approach. I have a long history with this issue, and safe connectivity from South Side to the core, as well as safe pedestrian passage from the core to the high school and the valley-wide bike path, will be one of the most important projects I will find funding for and complete as mayor.

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