River center gets $500,000 boost from Basalt | AspenTimes.com

River center gets $500,000 boost from Basalt

Scott Condon
The Aspen Times

The Roaring Fork Conservancy’s efforts to build an educational river center in Basalt received a $500,000 boost from the town government this week.

The town will repurchase the land that it sold to the conservancy for $400,000, the same amount it sold it for. The town also will provide a $100,000 grant for site landscaping and infrastructure.

A resolution passed 5-0 by the Town Council on Tuesday night said the development of the river center “is important to the overall health and vitality of the downtown core.”

The council directed its staff last year to explore financial strategies and financing to bring the project to fruition.

The Basalt-based conservancy purchased a site adjacent to Old Pond Park in Basalt earlier this decade. The River Center would be located just west of the new Innovation Center under construction by the Rocky Mountain Institute.

Town Manager Mike Scanlon said repurchasing the property was the best way to help the conservancy advance with the project. The $400,000 will come from the Parks, Open Space and Trails fund by Jan. 31. The site will be leased to the conservancy.

The $100,000 grant will come from the town’s general fund.

An agreement between the town and conservancy requires that work be started on the river center by January 2018. If it is close to commencing by then, the town manager can extend the deadline by six months.

If the conservancy cannot proceed, the town has the option to purchase the land back for $400,000.

Conservancy Executive Director Rick Lofaro told the council the river center is a $3.5 million project. The organization needs to raise just less than $1 million in additional funds to cover the cost, he said.

The conservancy scaled back the center from 8,400 to 4,500 square feet. It will include an exhibition hall, education center and offices.

The Roaring Fork Conservancy works to preserve water quality and quantity in the Roaring Fork watershed.

The town government also helped Rocky Mountain Institute acquire its site, which was owned by the town.