Letter: Mayor endorses Basalt land purchase | AspenTimes.com

Letter: Mayor endorses Basalt land purchase

If you haven’t voted yet, here are a few thoughts to consider regarding Basalt’s buy the river park questions 2F and 2G. In simple terms, 2F asks that Basalt buy the 2.3 acres that are near the river and adjacent to the street for $3.1 million. The town already owns the 2 acres adjacent to the river. Since the parcel was appraised at $2.9 million, the contract between the town and the nonprofit owner, Community Development Corp., is now for $2.9 million. Because both Pitkin and Eagle counties’ open space programs believe this parcel is a gem, together they have pledged $800,000 toward the purchase. Our out of pocket on this deal then becomes $2.1 million. With this support and interest rates at a 60-year low, this is a deal we won’t see again.

More reasons to vote “yes” on 2F: 1) The community wants and needs to move forward on this parcel. We are back to square one if we stop our momentum. 2) After months of planning and discussion, the previous council compromised and agreed that the parcel should be half park and half development. Everyone agreed to give a little so that we would go forward. So let’s do it now. Without the park, the rocks and weeds will continue to exist.

Question 2G asks for as much as $4.1 million to create a park that is unmistakably Basalt. Many experts believe that park development estimates have been overstated and that we can build a legacy park for much less and pay down the bond with the remainder.

Beyond these details, I urge you to vote “yes” on 2G because the river is key to vitality in Basalt. That a river runs through our downtown distinguishes us from the rest of the valley. I believe it needs to be the centerpiece for our town’s recreation, social activities, concerts, art and community. Voting “yes” insures that we will see the park construction begin in 2017.

At a spring council meeting spring, I stated my support for the park/development compromise. It bears repeating, “Over the years we have approved away our visual and physical access to many of our riverfront areas. I believe what is left needs to be preserved with wide-open spaces for all kinds of activities. Restaurants and recreation are ideally suited for this riverside site. The riverfront is a community asset rather than a place for housing. If we as a Town Council hold to that charge, I believe that in time we can create something that others want to visit and be a part of.

Our riverfront should be a regional gathering place focused on recreation, art and community events. Development there should be focused on dining areas and recreation in addition to the nonprofit campus we already have. There will always be disagreement on the issues and that’s OK. Understand that my motivation is simple, clear and consistent — I want to leave Basalt a better community. The vast majority of Basalt residents want that too.”

Vote “yes” on 2F and 2G!

Jacque Whitsitt

Mayor, Basalt


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