Pitkin County ready to roll with phase 2 of Basalt whitewater park | AspenTimes.com

Pitkin County ready to roll with phase 2 of Basalt whitewater park

$2.18 million project will focus on streamside amenities

Anglers cast their fate at Pitkin County’s whitewater park in Basalt in September 2019. Pitkin County plans to pursue the second phase of the project this year.
Aspen Times file photo

Pitkin County’s plan to spruce up streamside amenities at a whitewater park in Basalt is back on track after it was derailed for two years by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Pitkin County Healthy Rivers program aims to complete $2.18 million of work in a second phase of the project. Concrete structures were placed in the Roaring Fork River in 2016-17 to create waves in a short stretch downstream from Fisherman’s Park along Two Rivers Road. The first phase of the project also included a boulder retaining wall and access path down from Two Rivers Road as well as seating areas providing a view of the water features.

“The park’s become a popular place with river users,” said Lisa MacDonald, a representative of the healthy rivers program. The diverse group of users includes stand-up paddleboarders, kayakers and boogie boarders as well as anglers and people enjoying lunch at the riverside.

The second phase of the park is aimed at adding amenities that will allow people to enjoy the river without necessarily getting in the water, MacDonald told members of the Basalt Town Council on Tuesday night.

The new amenities include:

  • Safer parking along Two Rivers Road that will provide seven spaces plus one handicapped vehicle spot;
  • Bathrooms and a changing room just off the parking lot;
  • Bike lanes along a stretch of Two Rivers Road immediately overlooking the whitewater park;
  • An elevated boardwalk that connects the whitewater park viewing area with a boat launch area upstream. Landscaping and a native vegetation demonstration garden will be included along the boardwalk;
  • Additional seating along the whitewater park and boardwalk.

The Basalt council and county commissioners approved the project in September 2019 but it was placed on hold because of the pandemic and budget concerns. Since then, construction costs have soared and the project was refined. A pedestrian bridge across the Roaring Fork River was eliminated. The pared down phase 2 project is estimated to cost $2.18 million.

Pitkin County is carrying over $1 million from the 2021 budget. Basalt is kicking in $175,000. Great Outdoors Colorado previously awarded a grant for $350,000. The grant was extended but must be used by the end of this year.

To make up the shortfall, the county commissioners approved an additional $300,000 from the healthy rivers program and earmarked $350,000 in park dedication fees that were collected from developers.

The project will be put out for bid in late May or early June, MacDonald said.

Basalt council members endorsed the refinements Tuesday night and urged the county to proceed. Mayor Bill Kane, attending remotely while vacationing in Hawaii, noted that river hydrology dictated the placement of the whitewater park. The town is completing a different park — Basalt River Park — at a centralized location near downtown near the intersection of Two Rivers Road and Midland Avenue.

Once the two parks are completed, it would serve the town well to connect them via a pedestrian path along the river, Kane said.

“We do have the potential for this classic string of pearls,” Kane said. “We’ve got quite a river town here.”

In with the new in Basalt

It was out with the old and in with the new at the Basalt Town Council meeting Tuesday night.

New council members Angela Anderson and Dieter Schindler were sworn into office for four-year terms. Incumbent Ryan Slack returned for a second four-year term. All three were unopposed so the town canceled the municipal election on April 5.

Gary Tennenbaum signed off after serving two four-year terms. He couldn’t run again because of term limits.

Bill Infante also departed office after serving one four-year term. He decided against running again.

Tennenbaum said it was a “really cool time to end” and an appropriate time. “I think Basalt is in a really great place,” he said.