Guest commentary: Pool, river park to highlight 2021 Basalt projects |

Guest commentary: Pool, river park to highlight 2021 Basalt projects

Bill Kane
Guest commentary

As our community looks forward to celebrating the holidays, and bidding farewell to what has been a challenging 2020, I am proud of how our town of Basalt has worked together to stay safe and healthy, support local businesses, and maintain community spirit.

I would like to share with you several exciting projects for the town in 2021. These projects have been in planning for years, and it’s important that our town moves forward so we can continue to serve our residents. Town Council is committed to seeing these projects to completion and will responsibly invest tax dollars to complete each one.

The first two projects — Arbaney Park Pool and Basalt River Park — will be funded using money from the town’s POST fund. The POST fund comes from a 1% sales tax approved by voters in 2006. This fund can only be used for Parks, Open Space and Trails. The POST Committee, made up of community volunteers, makes recommendations to Town Council on the use of these tax dollars. This fund has more than adequate reserves to fund these projects.

The Arbaney Park Pool project has been in the works since 2013. The first phase is the largest project on the town’s docket for 2021 and will include some great enhancements to the pool complex, including a new interactive robot pool, updated locker rooms, fencing, ADA improvements, state-of-the-art energy saving improvements, shade features and furniture. We expect this project to be completed in May, just in time for the summer season.

The second project funded using POST sales tax is Basalt River Park. The town just completed the purchase of this property and will begin improvements soon. Improvements will be coordinated with the private development occurring on the western half of the property and will take place over two years. The park enhancements will take shape during summer 2021 and will include hardscape improvements with an interactive water feature for kids to compliment a new restaurant, a new bandshell, additional turf areas, landscaping and several other fun features for kids.

Another 2021 project will be the purchase and renovation of a new Public Works facility, centrally located to serve the entire town. This project was identified as a need in 2006 and is long overdue. Over the past 15 years, Basalt has grown on both sides, and without this facility, the town cannot keep up with its service requirements.

Basalt’s strategic framework directed town staff to look for a suitable site, which was identified in January. The town will use a portion of its savings to purchase a 1-acre property at Original Road and Highway 82, enhancing the town’s ability to provide services throughout the community. The town has the site under contract, and the sale may be finalized in the coming weeks.

Even with this land purchase, the town will be following its conservative Council Reserve Policy. After the purchase, the town will still have about $1.3 million above its Council Reserve Policy requirement in savings. The town is in a strong financial position because of careful management and prudent spending of your tax dollars.

Finally, we will look forward in 2021 to the completion of a new performing-arts center for The Arts Campus at Willits (TACAW). A portion of the proceeds to construct the facility came from a restricted fund provided by a real estate transfer assessment set aside for an arts center in Willits. The balance of funding for this facility will come from TACAW’s fundraising efforts.

If you have any questions about these projects or the town’s budget, please reach out to me or Town Manager Ryan Mahoney. We are committed to transparency and accountability to our taxpayers. It might seem like a lot to tackle at once, but Town Council and staff have planned well ahead for these projects. Basalt is in a strong financial position to make these investments.

So let’s look forward to 2021. I believe the future will be bright for our town. On behalf of Town Council and staff, please have a joyful holiday season. Let’s work together to stay safe and healthy so we can continue to enjoy all that Basalt and our region has to offer.

Bill Kane was elected mayor of Basalt in April.

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