Letter: Basalt needs thoughtful planning
I strongly endorse the notion that a thoughtfully scaled and amenitized river park companioned by support development will prove itself a viable asset to Basalt’s identity and future.
Aside from completion costs posited by others in excess of $15 million, I join a number of design professionals who believe the physical planning of the park to be based on flawed premises with resultant disintegration from the town core.
First flaw: Expediently generated by political compromise rather than smart land-use factors, a wedge-shaped view corridor overlay has emerged as a determining factor to park planning and layout. Contrary to its visual purpose the geometry of the view corridor has artificially created an isolated, no-mans land now labeled the “Polygon.” This overlay is positioned where the trees and land features of Lions Park, not to mention Town Hall, totally obscure view of both river corridor and park terrains. The Polygon parcel is an awkwardly shaped piece of land without contributing purpose, and I find it incredible that those who govern did not bring to question the validity or consequences of these purposeless, divisions of park space.
Second flaw: While I support the nonprofit zone defined by the Rocky Mountain Institute facility and the soon to be built Roaring Fork Conservancy River Center, the proposed commercial zone contiguous to the institute is not only awkwardly distant from town center, but results in a winter traverse along an empty-room park to reach downtown. Small-town scale?
I believe that complementing park land with well-scaled and positioned commercial development would advantage the best of each with long-lasting community benefit. The often referred to Salida River Park is a great example, whose relaxing green space is defined both by river course activity as well as surrounds of medium density downtown retail and restaurant development — a relationship that has enhanced the success of both town and park with pedestrian vitality!
Translating the Salida example to the Basalt, I propose reconsideration of an affordable boutique hotel integrated with public access to its restaurant and common facilities such as river view terraces and situated closer to town near Midland Avenue.
Situated as such, it would invigorate connection and convenience between downtown and park land. As well, the facility would act as an arrival portal to Basalt, sending an inviting signal that the lights are on, we are open for business and have a river park to boot!
Over two years of divisive discourse without traction have polarized the community we all call home. In a context of thoughtful planning, true community benefit, and implementable economies — let’s do it right this time!
Irrespective of the 2F/2G outcome, current park planning desperately needs re-examination!
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