Letter: River park purchase a missed opportunity for Basalt | AspenTimes.com

Letter: River park purchase a missed opportunity for Basalt

There has been a glaring omission in the debate over the town of Basalt’s potential purchase of the Pan and Fork property, and that is the other opportunities the town misses out on if we put the property to almost solely park use.

I can say from experience that what Basalt desperately needs is more quality (not high end) lodging for guests. Recently my downtown business hosted a board meeting of several notable individuals, one of whom was the former governor of our great state. We could not for the life of us find these people rooms in Basalt or Willits, and they would up staying elsewhere.

Let’s be clear: If the town does not purchase the additional land, the great majority of the property — the portion along the river — will be a unique and wonderful park. But if we decide the town should make the property essentially all park (except for a small parcel on the west side near Rocky Mountain Institute [i.e., not really contiguous with downtown]), we will miss the opportunity to weave into the park use some actual people and vitality. How about a cool boutique hotel, with reasonable height and view plane limits? A brewery, coffee shop, restaurants, and perhaps even some residential use? It’s very easy for the new faction on council to say that ought to occur at the former Clark’s Market, but there are no guarantees that would ever happen, and what would be wrong with both?

The all-park argument also misses the fact that the park will be under-utilized during the six months or so of snow and cold weather. And it would also result in raising your taxes with no real plan to provide adequate funding to manage the newly acquired and already owned land. That money could be extracted from a reasonable development which would meet the town’s land-use code. We could have park and small hotel, restaurant, brewery, cafe, etc., and the latter would be used year-round.

Let’s not miss this massive opportunity. Please vote “no” on 2F and 2G.

Paul Noto