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Tee times take up town’s time

A sign of the times played out in the Basalt Town Council chambers last night when rules of golf sparked more debate than a major land development proposal or a bold environmental step.

The Town Council and owners of the Roaring Fork Club hashed out who would be considered a Basaltine and how much access they would get this summer when the private golf club opens for play.

Jim Light, a partner in the club, renewed a pledge to try to make 20 percent of tee times available to Basalt residents who aren’t members. That connection with the public is important because he and his partners never want the club to be “perceived as a wealthy enclave on the edge of town,” he said.

Nonetheless, they also need to live up to commitments made to their 337 members – a good share of them second-home owners in the Roaring Fork Valley, according to Light.

That means nonmembers will be restricted to two dedicated foursomes before 9:30 a.m. and two more foursomes after 2 p.m. from May 15 through June 30.

During July and August, there will be tee times for two foursomes of Basalt residents before 9:30 a.m. and one foursome after 2 p.m.

The number pops back up to two foursomes before 10 a.m. and two after 2 p.m. from Sept. 1 to the end of the season.

Greens fees for Basaltines who aren’t members will be $35 per round. One of the four people in the Basaltines’ foursomes can be a guest.

The club owners anticipate between 1,300 and 1,400 rounds this season. In addition to those “dedicated” tee times, locals will also be able to call in for available times except during July and August.

The club operators will be required to evaluate how many rounds were used by Basaltines this season and make adjustments to keep it at 20 percent of all tee times in future seasons.

Along with nailing down rules of when locals would play, the Town Council had to define who is a Basalt resident for the purposes of golf club access. The majority voted to stick with a basic definition of a registered town voter, over the objections of Councilwoman Jacque Whitsitt.

She said residents of Holland Hills should also be included. Although they are in unincorporated Pitkin County, they suffered the brunt of construction hassles, Whitsitt noted.

The Town Council always talks about regional approaches, but doesn’t back up the talk with action, she complained. “We’re showing some greediness and self-centeredness,” Whitsitt said.

Her colleagues countered that sticking to a more common definition of Basalt resident would be best for analysis during the club’s first season.

The Roaring Fork Club plans to open nine holes on May 15. The remaining nine will open in July.

To avoid trampling the new grass, the operators hope to limit play by members and particularly members’ guests, as well as Basaltines, according to their memo to the board.

The debate over the Roaring Fork Club’s rules lasted longer and drew more public involvement than the council’s discussions of Sopris Meadows, a project which could essentially double midvalley commercial space, or a decision to buy wind-generated electricity.


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