Basalt chamber responds to Seldin
Editors note: This guest opinion was sent to The Aspen Times as a letter responding to an e-mail from Basalt Town Councilman Chris Seldin to the president of the Basalt Chamber of Commerce. The subject of Seldins e-mail was addressed in the article, Conflict claim clouds Basalt candidate forum, printed in The Aspen Times on March 19. The chamber board takes exception to Town Councilman Chris Seldins allegation regarding the inappropriateness of any one member of the board or the board as a whole regarding the Basalt candidate forum. The board is committed to taking an unbiased position on any election issues. It is our intent to ensure all relevant issues are discussed. We solicited the public to provide questions to the board so we could provide candidates the best opportunity to prepare in advance. All candidates are being asked to respond in writing to all advanced questions; but due to time constraints, only the first two questions will be asked live of each candidate (the other four questions will be rotated throughout the candidates). Time will also be allotted for audience questions. Since Mr. Seldin took issue with questions No. 1 ( regarding development/open space) and No. 2 (regarding Referendum A and related replacement housing issues), we want to respond to those. Question 1 asked verbatim, With your knowledge of the 2007 master plan, as a Town Council member, how would you balance the competing interests between development and open space in the best interests of the community? This question has commonly been asked in our community for many years preceding this forum. It is current and appropriate for the public to hear what each candidates view is on this point. Question 2 asked verbatim, Presuming the referendum on Ballot Issue A passes and the Town of Basalt purchases the Pan & Fork Trailer Park, how would you reconcile the alternative approaches identified by Planning & Zoning Commission in the 2007 master plan and the current Town Council resolution regarding replacement housing alternatives outside the urban growth boundary ( UGB)? This question came from several members of the public who asked regarding Referendum A how will replacement housing be provided, by whom, at what cost, what location, and what time frame, how many years will it take to move current Pan and Fork tenants, would the town consider annexing land outside the current UGB in order to provide affordable housing? These two topics have taken up the majority of the councils time with Question 2 referencing the one item the council has felt strongly enough on to write a guest opinion. The board could not possibly submit all questions received from the public and saw Referendum A as being a legitimate question to ask of the candidates and particularly those raised by the public regarding replacement housing. Our president shared his knowledge of this issue on the master plan which poses a legitimate question, in the boards opinion, regarding how the community will resolve this issue and what the candidates thoughts are. The chamber board is a volunteer board elected by its membership. We ask that elected officials respect our process, we asked the community to supply questions and feel we have asked these questions in the most open manner possible for the candidates to be able to express their visions for the future of Basalt. To state that questions that have and continue to occupy the Town of Basalt and its citizens should not be asked of prospective candidates because they are difficult or because some people may have a personal stake is to defeat the purpose of having a candidates forum. We do not feel we have implied a right or wrong answer in these questions but that they reflect the reality of the current situation for Basalt. We look forward to thoughtful answers from the candidates that will help citizens make an informed decision when the time comes to vote for the candidate of their choosing. We believes the forum will allow the public a fair opportunity to learn where each candidate stands on issues of affordable housing, Referendum A, transportation, growth, and many other pertinent issues.Basalt Chamber of Commerce Board of DirectorsBrad Elliott, David Fiore, Lynne Mace, Tony Thompson and Brent Wenner
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