Size matters when it comes to clocktowers | AspenTimes.com
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Size matters when it comes to clocktowers

Basalt’s got a stubby clock tower and some residents want to do something about it.An informal citizens’ group headed by former Town Manager Tom Baker and civic workhorse Charlie Cole asked the Town Council this week to consider granting a variance so the clock tower on the Basalt Town Center building can grow.The newly remodeled building is drawing almost universal accolades. It features a detailed brick exterior that makes it look like it was built 100, rather than 20, years ago. The building, home of a new bookstore that is scheduled to open July 31, boasts the clock tower, which is one of the prominent features on Midland Avenue, the town’s main street.The problem is the tower doesn’t exactly tower over Midland. “It looks unfinished,” said Cole when he approached the council Tuesday night.A letter submitted to the council by Baker on behalf of those concerned said, “A group of citizens has asked the question, ‘Will the clock tower on the new bookstore building have a top?'”Basalt architect Raul Gawrys said the building looks all right without a top to the tower, but given their druthers he and building owner Clay Bennett prefer more up top.”It would be like adding frosting to the cake,” Gawrys said.The tower is 35 feet to the top, per the town’s limits, according to Gawrys. He thinks it could use another 12 feet at least.In its present form, the tower protrudes a bit higher than the rest of the handsome two-story structure. Gawrys said he requested permission to go higher when the town reviewed the remodeling application last fall. The town planning staff said the request would require another layer of review. When the council in office at the time didn’t intervene, the request was pulled for sake of time, according to Gawrys. He and Bennett didn’t want to delay the start of the project.Gawrys said he has prepared drawings showing the tower with both a dome and a steeple. He stated no preference for either of those or some other type of cap. The decision to add and what to add will be Bennett’s, Gawrys said.Cole and Baker’s group didn’t propose a design. They just suggested a way the town could get it done. Baker said special rules could be drafted to allow “civic elements” on downtown buildings.Civic elements would be defined as clock towers, spires, statues and perhaps other uninhabited additions, but not flagpoles, Baker wrote.The council was receptive. “I think we should do this. It’s a great addition to the town,” Councilwoman Anne Freedman said.The board directed the staff to explore the issue and figure out how to get it done. Town Manager Bill Efting said the research is necessary just to make sure no unintended consequences arise.Gawrys said the tower can be added without major problems. If the idea advances, he wants to study building an addition on the ground and hoisting it atop the tower.Scott Condon’s e-mail address is scondon@aspentimes.com


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