Letter: Not a good deal for Basalt | AspenTimes.com

Letter: Not a good deal for Basalt

I’ve been reading the various letters and comments on the Basalt river park with a kind of grim fascination. I say “river park” because that’s not really accurate, is it? The town of Basalt already owns all the land by the river. What we are being asked to vote on ballot issue 2F is the purchase of land on Two Rivers Road next to the bus stop. But I guess branding a campaign saying, “Buy the land next to the bus stop” isn’t as persuasive as “Buy the river park!”

Does the “yes” campaign really expect the bus stop park to transform the fortunes of downtown Basalt? I am dubious about claims the park will attract visitors from all over the valley and the state. Where would our park rank in a Trip Advisor list of must-see attractions in the valley? The park has to be of a scale appropriate for local residents, and the existing park land is plenty big enough.

The “yes” campaign is scaring us into believing that the only alternative is some 75,000-square-foot monstrosity. I don’t see anybody lobbying for this. Lowe Enterprises has said it will work with the town to provide an acceptable alternative. The proliferation of huge properties in the valley is offensive to many, and do we really want vast show-home condos sitting empty for much of the year in our valuable downtown space? But getting some younger faces into Basalt would be great, couples wanting to settle in the valley, desperate to get a foot on the housing ladder. Environmentally friendly, two-bed, 800-square-foot properties might fit the bill nicely, particularly if you could give an incentive to sell to the right people, or more likely a disincentive to people looking to profit from the housing shortage. Specify that it has to be your only worldwide property and if it isn’t, you pay double property taxes.

But we have to act now, interest rates are so low! It’s like going to Glenwood to buy a huge, expensive vehicle that I don’t need and can’t afford because I can get cheap finance. The “yes” campaign is trying to bamboozle us with some magic math. You don’t understand, it’s coming out of a different fund! All I need to know is that it will feed through to tax increases for homeowners and businesses, as the current state of the town’s finances isn’t great. And that means there’s little to spend on projects which actually might make a difference to the Basalt economy. The whitewater park is a neat idea; how about developing mountain-bike and hiking trails with direct access from Basalt?

We know that some local businesses have been struggling, particularly since we lost our supermarket. They are telling us they need help and that the mega park is not the solution. As a community, are we listening and trying to help or are we pursuing our own self-interest?

Richard Maclaurin

Basalt


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