Speak up now | AspenTimes.com

Speak up now

The Town of Basalt is about to begin construction on a new Riverfront Park on the Levinson property behind Taqueria El Nopal. The park will be a wonderful public amenity, and significant improvements to the overall property will improve water quality, river access, and the entrance to Basalt. However, many of you might be hearing of this for the first time. The reason may lie in the public process and the lack of information that has been available to the public.

The Roaring Fork Conservancy has voiced concerns with the environmental impacts associated with the park plan, and is currently working with the Town of Basalt to assess the impacts prior to and during construction. While this is a broad and important conservation issue that reaches beyond the town and the Conservancy, the process has not solicited the opinions of the most important players in the Riverfront Park: the citizens of Basalt.

As part of the River Master Planning process, the public was supposed to have input on the park design. An appropriate opportunity for public input was not provided prior to the Planning and Zoning Commission meeting last Tuesday. In addition, the project has gone to bid before receiving approval from the town trustees. Any public comment at the upcoming March 23 Town Council meeting will be important, and this will be the time to make your voices heard.

Furthermore, the town staff is requesting an exemption from the Environmentally Sensitive Areas (ESA) ordinance. This is an ordinance the Conservancy and the town co-created that is designed to protect riparian areas like the Levinson property. The town requires all other applicants to adhere to the conditions of the ESA, so why are they asking for an exemption on their own project that is immediately adjacent to the river?

The community is not aware of what is planned for the Levinson property, and we wanted to get the word out to those who might be interested in the future environmental condition of the property, and the future of our river through Basalt.

Rick Lofaro

Water Quality Program Coordinator

Technical Advisor to the Town of Basalt

Roaring Fork Conservancy

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