No place like home for Basalt parish |

No place like home for Basalt parish

Scott CondonAspen, CO Colorado
Paul Conrad/The Aspen Times

BASALT The parishioners at St. Vincent Catholic Church in Basalt concluded there was no place like home after shopping for years for a new site for a larger sanctuary.The church has applied to expand at its existing site on Midland Avenue rather than seek a new site that might take it out of town.An often overlooked part of Basalt’s growth is the bind it puts on churches. Some of the churches don’t have the facilities to accommodate expanding congregations. The Basalt Community United Methodist Church left its historic structure in town for a larger space in Holland Hills a couple of years ago.St. Vincent is also bursting at the seams at times, according to Victor Gerdin, president of the parish council. The church is almost always full to standing room only for the Spanish Mass on Sunday, Gerdin said. The application said a crowd of 200 to 300 – way above seating capacity – is common at the English Mass on Sundays as well.The church’s capacity is about 150, according to the development application. An expansion will create more seating “for the people that are standing now,” Gerdin said.

Under the proposal, the church would be expanded on its southerly side, back toward the center of town. An old rectory residence that is used as a rental dwelling is currently there.The altar, pews and other facilities for Mass would be located on the ground floor of the addition. The existing sanctuary would be used for meetings and special events, like St. Patrick’s Day Dinner.The existing church is about 4,000 square feet with a 1,690-square-foot basement. The addition would add 4,210 square feet on the ground floor and a basement of the same size.Gerdin said he liked the idea of keeping the church in town. It’s also the most cost effective option.”What we’re shooting for is to minimize the cost,” he said.

The current plan is to raise $2 million for the project, if it receives town government blessing. Even then, the project would require in-kind labor and donations of materials from parishioners.Gerdin said the expense of land in and around Basalt coupled with the difficulty of getting land annexed if it is outside the existing urban growth boundary led the parish to consider expansion rather than purchasing an alternative site.The parish’s development application identified parking as the “threshold issue” in the review. The town code would require the church to provide parking for 50 vehicles for that size of an addition. The parish leaders want the requirement eased.

“If the church has to provide that parking off site or by fees in lieu of parking, the cost of expansion may exceed their financial resources,” said the application, prepared by Basalt architect and planner Ted Guy. “The church would then pursue expansion options outside of town.”The town staff is reviewing the development application. No hearing has been scheduled yet before the Town Council.Scott Condon’s e-mail address is

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