Guest commentary: Basalt projects moving forward as town comes together
Last year was a busy time for the Town of Basalt. As we emerged from the pandemic, Town Council and staff turned their attention toward Basalt’s future and putting into action our town’s Master Plan. The Master Plan, finalized in 2020 after extensive community engagement and collaboration, identified Basalt’s highest community priorities over the coming years, including affordable housing, green initiatives, Midland Avenue streetscape and many other projects.
It was clear from the Master Plan work that our community wanted to see these high-priority projects designed, financed and moving forward. That’s why in 2021, Council approved the creation of Basalt Forward 2030, a volunteer-led review of the Master Plan projects and a Facility Needs study to focus on the most pressing projects to help shape and improve our Town’s future.
Through that process, and over the course of several public meetings with residents and business owners, the volunteer Capital Needs Committee, Council members and Town staff identified three project areas that could be financed with voter-approved bonds without raising taxes.
Council ultimately approved a list of projects and sent to Basalt voters question 3A to allow the Town to issue $18 million in bonds to complete the following three priorities:
• Affordable Housing including purchasing land, working with affordable-housing partners, acquiring deed restrictions, and/or supporting housing programs;
• Midland Avenue streetscape project, including improvements to sidewalks, streetlights and infrastructure along our main downtown street; and
• Green projects including solar, vehicle-charging stations, energy-efficiency upgrades and other improvements to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels.
Fortunately, Basalt voters resoundingly approved 3A by over 70 percent of the vote. That vote, coupled with all the community engagement on the Master Plan and Basalt Forward 2030 — sent a clear message that Basalt taxpayers wanted investments in our community’s infrastructure.
Now, the Town is getting to work. Basalt has issued its bonds and the funds are available to begin work on the voter-approved 2030 projects. The Town is actively researching and pursuing affordable-housing strategies, including deed buydowns. The Town has approved the purchase of four deed-restricted lots in the Stott’s Mill development on the Southside. We have also hired a firm to conduct a solar study that may lead to a cooperative renewable-energy project with the Roaring Fork School District.
On Midland Avenue, the Town competitively bid and hired local firm Connect One Design for the project. Working with Town staff, their team has begun public outreach, including the first of two public surveys and pop-up booths on Midland Avenue to gather information from citizens and visitors. The team has also been meeting with business owners, residents and other stakeholders to ensure that the Midland Avenue project provides maximum benefit to our Town’s businesses, residents and visitors, with the least amount of disruptions.
Community investments like Midland Avenue, Basalt River Park, Arbaney Park pool improvements and the other Basalt Forward 2030 priorities will shape our Town for years to come. To be successful, we need your involvement, so please visit letstalk.basalt.net for updates on the Basalt Forward 2030 projects.
On a final note, I want to congratulate our dedicated, professional Town staff on a significant award. The Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada (GFOA) recently awarded its Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting to the Town of Basalt. According to the GFOA, the certificate is the “highest recognition available for governmental accounting and financial reporting, and its attainment represents a significant accomplishment by a government and its management.”
This award represents another major step in our work to provide an accountable, transparent and professional Town government for our community. This, and the work we are doing to invest in our community and move Basalt forward, makes me proud to be mayor.
Bill Kane was elected mayor in April 2020, and he previously served as Basalt town manager from March 2009 to August 2012.