River center back before Basalt | AspenTimes.com

River center back before Basalt

Janet UrquhartThe Aspen TimesAspen, CO Colorado

Courtesy Harry Teague ArchitectsA conceptual sketch of the Roaring Fork Conservancy river center. The project is back before the Basalt Town Council Tuesday.

BASALT – The Roaring Fork Conservancy will seek a key approval for its proposed 8,432-square-foot river center in Basalt Tuesday, though some Town Council members have said the building is too big.The conceptual plan for the river center has not changed since a June 8 council hearing, when four members called for alterations to the structure. A council visit to the site, next to Old Pond Park on Two Rivers Road, is scheduled at 5:30 p.m. The edges of the building will be staked to give council members a sense of the footprint of the building on the 16,000-square-foot property.An approval would give the project’s mass, scale, height and setbacks the go-ahead, while detailed plans regarding the building’s architecture, landscaping, lighting, etc. would come back to the council for subsequent approval.Rick Lofaro, executive director of the Roaring Fork Conservancy, said Monday that the Basalt-based nonprofit remains flexible, but hopes the council sees the need for the building it has proposed.”Hopefully, they will find the current size and design program palatable for what we need and what the needs of the community will be in this facility,” he said.In a June 17 letter to the council, Lofaro said: “We want to emphasize that the size in square feet may not be the best measurement of a building. A building’s scale and function are more significant than size.”Conservancy representatives intend to show the council photos of buildings in Basalt for comparison, he indicated.The conservancy wants to build an educational facility that includes hands-on, interactive exhibits to teach residents and visitors about the Roaring Fork watershed.”My main question is, and I just haven’t heard an answer, why does it need to be so big?” said Councilman Pete McBride at the June 8 hearing.McBride and Councilwoman Jacque Whitsitt were among four members who called for changes to the building at that meeting. Whitsitt last week said the design, size and setbacks of the structure continue to trouble her.The town staff has offered several alternative courses of action for the council to take on Tuesday, including approval of the ordinance that would grant zoning and site-plan approval for the project. The council could also revise the ordinance and approve it; call for changes to the ordinance and continue the matter to July 13; direct the town staff to prepare an ordinance denying the application; or send the application back to the Planning and Zoning Commission.Also offered as an option is a professionally facilitated discussion with the Roaring Fork Conservancy board, its project designers and staff representatives from both the conservancy and the town.”This way, the applicant could explain in a different environment their space and timing requirements, allowing the two boards to work together to develop an approach that works for both. The P&Z could also be invited to share their views,” says the staff memo.If the council isn’t inclined to approve the project in some form, the facilitated discussion could be advantageous, the memo suggests.janet@aspentimes.com