Success of Basalt golf club spurs expansion plans | AspenTimes.com
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Success of Basalt golf club spurs expansion plans

A private golf and fishing club in Basalt wants to feed off its success over the last five years and add nine holes to its course and 24 luxury cabins, according to managing partner Jim Light.Light and his partners have negotiated deals to lease nearly 180 acres of undeveloped land from two longtime local families to accommodate the proposed expansion. That land is located just east or upvalley from the Elk Run subdivision, one of the highest-density neighborhoods in Basalt.The land for the possible expansion will be leased from Guido Meyer, who lives and operates a tree nursery on 185 acres. The club would lease 165 acres from Meyer and he would retain 20 acres for possible development of single-family home lots for his family, according to Light.Another 13 acres would be leased from Wy and Judy Kittle, who have a historic family homestead adjacent to the Meyer property. They would retain three acres and seek approval for home lots, Light said.Word of the possible expansion began circulating around Basalt this summer after the Roaring Fork Club’s consultants started meeting with Elk Run residents to see what concerns, if any, they have about the plan.Light confirmed the expansion plan this week, though he said he would have preferred to meet first with town officials before discussing it with the media.Club representatives are scheduled to make an informal presentation on their plan on Tuesday, Aug. 17, at a joint meeting of the Basalt Planning and Zoning Commission and Basalt Town Council. The formal review won’t start until later in the summer.Basalt officials must decide if they will annex the additional property into the town. The 18-hole golf course and 48 luxury cabins were approved by the town and annexed in 1997. The project included 22 affordable housing units.Opportunity for displaced residentsThe new plan could be enticing to the town because the club will propose to donate five acres of land for the specific purpose of providing housing for up to 38 families living in the Pan and Fork Mobile Home Park. The town government wants the trailers removed and replacement housing found for the residents because of the risk of flooding. Town officials say lives and property are at stake.Light said the donation of land could help the town get started on implementing its river master plan, a blueprint on how to safely redevelop the downtown Roaring Fork River corridor. He stressed that it is up to the town whether to pursue that strategy; the club isn’t trying to tell the town how to proceed.If approved, the addition would make the Roaring Fork Club the first golf course in the valley to offer more than 18 holes. The extra nine gives clubs greater flexibility in relieving congestion among members.It would also give the club more lucrative real estate to develop. The club’s 48 cabins are sold out. About one-third of them are owned in fractional interests. Another 12 suites are about 40 percent sold out.Light said the proposed cabins would be in the “partnership program” and sold in fractional interests. That helps add vitality to the club and to the town, he said.Club brought changesThe club is credited in the eyes of some and blamed in the eyes of others for helping bring a transformation to Basalt. Without a doubt, it’s brought more affluent shoppers and diners to town.Wendy Lucas, a real estate agent with Morris & Fyrwald, said the presence of the club has opened the eyes of many potential high-end buyers to what Basalt has to offer. People who have visited the club or know about it have checked out Basalt as a place to live.She sees that trend increasing. “I think even though it did affect the market, it’s just the tip of the iceberg,” Lucas said.Few vacant lots are available for those high-end buyers. Lucas predicted the scarcity of land will result in affluent buyers purchasing existing homes and either undertaking extensive remodels or scrapping them and building new homes.Some Elk Run residents are taking a wait-and-see attitude about potential changes next door. Ticia Pilati, a seven-year resident of the neighborhood, said many people are concerned because they love the existing open space.”If growth is going to happen I’d be OK with a golf course and some cabins,” Pilati said. “I would not be OK with high-density development.”Town resident Jim Paussa didn’t welcome the idea of an expanded golf course.”Everybody thinks a golf course is open space. That’s bulls—,” he said. Open space indicates a natural ecosystem in his mind.Light said the project is compatible with the Urban Land Institute’s vision of “smart growth” because it is economically viable, environmentally sensitive and promotes community livability.Since all 48 cabins have been sold, it’s safe to assume there is reasonable demand for 24 more, he said.The addition will incorporate the same environmental criteria that the original phase of the club followed. Light said the expansion represents “infill” development of land between the main part of town and the existing part of the club.The project contributes to community livability by providing the land for replacement housing for the trailer park residents, Light noted.Scott Condon’s e-mail address is scondon@aspentimes.com


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