Redrawing county lines up for public debate next week
Midvalley residents will get an opportunity next week to energize or put an end to efforts to redraw county lines in their neck of the woods.
A meeting will be held Wednesday, Feb. 24, at 7 p.m. in Basalt Town Hall to discuss a proposal to redraw boundaries to place a chunk of the midvalley in Pitkin or Garfield county or to create a new county. That section of the valley is now in Eagle County.
“Right now, some people want a new county, some people want to go to Pitkin, some want to go to Garfield, some aren’t sure what they want to do,” said Basalt Town Councilwoman Jacque Whitsitt.
She sparked the latest round of discussions by proposing last week that the Basalt Town Council support a study to determine if some adjustment to county lines should be made. Her proposal was supported 6-0 by the council – with the condition that the effort be a citizens’ initiative, not the council’s project.
Whitsitt said she hopes to use next Wednesday’s meeting to find out from citizens what issues should be part of the study. It will also feature a discussion on the “basics of creating a county versus moving county lines.”
She expects that the public meeting will set some direction for the movement.
“Most people want out, but they don’t have a foregone conclusion of where they want to be,” said Whitsitt.
Skeptics question whether the talk will lead to any action. Discontent with Eagle County, or some other county in the Roaring Fork Valley, regularly fuels secession talks or calls to carve a new county – often dubbed Sopris County – out of the valley, observers noted.
Basalt Town Councilman Steve Solomon went so far as to suggest last fall that the Eagle County commissioners ought to be recalled because of their stances on growth control. His call for action never went anywhere.
But Whitsitt claimed the time is ripe for action on the less drastic plan to adjust county lines.
“I think maybe the timing is better right now, for some reason,” she said. Many midvalley residents believe their neighborhoods are at a crossroads and that critical land-use decisions are going to be made in the next few years, she noted.
Whitsitt and other Basalt officials have expressed frustration over trying to work with Eagle County on land use and other regional issues. They claim Pitkin County has proven more cooperative.
However, Whitsitt insisted that her suggestion wasn’t spurred by anger at Eagle County officials.
“Hopefully they aren’t taking this potential change as an insult,” she said.
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