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Report: Basalt town government has outgrown its 1979 town hall

Council will consider pursuing $19.4 million replacement

Flowers bloom around Basalt Town Hall on a warm summer day on Wednesday, June 9, 2021. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)

Basalt officials will assess a concept in coming month of building a new facility that would combine the planning and police departments with other offices in a centralized town hall.

The consolidation would come at an estimated cost of $19.54 million but would meet the town’s needs for decades to come, according to a preliminary report from a consultant.

An alternative approach would be to upgrade three separate facilities that house the planning department in the former library, the police department at its current shop near Elk Run subdivision and town hall at Lions Park, the report said. The challenge of remodeling the current facilities is they might not be able to meet the demand of a growing town.



The town government hired the architecture, planning and consulting firm of Cushing Terrell this year to perform a facilities needs assessment. It came as little surprise that the preliminary report concluded the existing town facilities don’t meet the growing town’s needs.

The current town hall was built in 1979. The U.S. Census recorded the town’s population at 529 in 1980. Basalt has exceeded 4,000 in population and continues to grow. The Colorado state demographer’s office forecast the population to grow 35% over the next decade, according to town manager Ryan Mahoney.



“We’re simply outgrowing (the facilities),” Mahoney told the council at a May 25 meeting. “We’re a growing town.”

Cushing Terrell’s preliminary report was presented to the council Tuesday night.

“The report shows that the highest needs of the town facilities are due to the town’s growth over the past 10 years, plus the growth anticipated during the next 10 years,” said a staff memo to the council. “Basically, the town has outgrown the size of its current facilities according to the space assessment, including Town Hall, the Police Department, Planning, and Public Works.”

The current town hall, police department and planning department are 8,622 square feet.

The town government is already taking steps to build a new public works facility. It purchased land earlier this year between old town and Willits and is working on a plan for a new facility.

In a separate move, a building of 14,500 square feet would be needed to create a centralized town hall with the cop shop and planning department, according to Cushing Terrell. That includes 5,000 square feet for a town hall, 4,500 square feet for the police department, 3,000 square feet for the planning and building department, and 2,000 square feet for a community use room. It also would include structured parking with 24 spaces.

While expensive, the advantage would be it would not require buying land, which is at a premium in the Roaring Fork Valley. The alternative assumes the existing town hall and the old library building would be razed.

Before Cushing Terrell’s final report is released, council members want a space comparison to other, similar government halls.

“It would be great to be prepared to defend ourselves,” Mayor Bill Kane said.

The town government’s facility needs assessment is one part of a bigger puzzle Basalt is assembling regarding facilities and amenities it needs over the next 10 to 20 years. The broader assessment is known as Basalt Forward 2030. A capital needs committee comprised of residents and town officials is compiling a list of projects. It includes intriguing possibilities such as a pedestrian bridge over the Roaring Fork River between the Basalt Regional Library and Basalt River Park.

So how will the town prioritize among rather mundane projects such as a new town hall versus more sexy projects like the bridge? Mahoney said it would be a balance between needs and wants.

The plan right now is to sort out the wish list this summer and prepare a possible funding question for the November ballot.

scondon@aspentimes.com


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