Pace of growth, lack of affordable housing emerge as top issues in Basalt survey |

Pace of growth, lack of affordable housing emerge as top issues in Basalt survey

Town in process of determining what big projects to pursue

Flowers bloom around Basalt Town Hall on a warm summer day on Wednesday, June 9, 2021. Town officials are prioritizing public improvement projects in an effort called Basalt Forward 2030. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)

Basalt residents are concerned about the pace of growth and the lack of affordable housing, according to results of a survey commissioned by the town government.

The Town Council also learned last night from consultant Bill Ray that the town has its work cut out for it if it wants to convince voters to approve funding to build a new town hall.

WR Communications mailed 2,271 surveys to Basalt residents and business owners this summer. It received 211 responses for a rate of about 10%. It wasn’t a scientific survey but provided a glimpse into how town residents are feeling, Ray said.

The respondents were asked to prioritize potential projects the town would pay for by a property tax from a list provided.

“Workforce housing far and away was priority number one,” Ray said.

Also scoring high was vaguely worded “green initiatives” and Midland Avenue streetscape improvements.

A new town hall and Willits parking expansion were among items at the bottom of the list.

Basalt is in the process of prioritizing projects that it wants to pursue as a broad-sweeping community improvement effort called Basalt Forward 2030. The town has roughly $14 million in bonds that will be paid off in coming years through property taxes. The council is considering asking voters in November to approve new bonds that would offset those expiring without raising new property taxes.

A capital needs committee that was appointed by the council is working on a priority list. The citizen survey also will be taken into account. The council ultimately will decide if a property tax is pursued and what projects will be on the ballot.

Survey respondents were asked to rank a list of values for the prioritization process. “Support workforce” ranked highest, followed closely by enhance community spaces, reducing traffic and pursuing energy efficiency/green initiatives.

Modernizing town buildings and adding public art were the lowest ranked considerations.

Ray noted that respondents were given ample opportunity provide feedback on issues facing the town. More than 300 comments were provided.

“There is throughout the survey concerns about the pace of growth,” Ray said.

His presentation highlighted a sample of frequent topics in the feedback.

“Too much focus on additional building and development. Let’s preserve what we have,” said a resident of less than five years.

“I am concerned Basalt will lose its greatest assets — small town character and beautiful natural environment. These are what makes Basalt special,” said a resident of more than 21 years. “Size matters. Keep Basalt small. We do not want more inappropriate Aspen-type development.”

Ray said another common thread from the survey results was the need for more information about the Basalt Forward 2030 process and potential projects and costs. That information is forthcoming. The capital needs committee will make recommendations on priorities in August. If the council decided to place an issue on the November ballot, the question must be drafted in September.

Council members offered no comments on the survey results Tuesday night.


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