A vision for Basalt’s river park

“In merging nature and culture the most successful cities combine such universal needs as maintaining or restoring contact with the cycles of nature, with specific, local characteristics.” — Sally A. Kitt Chappell, “Chicago’s Urban Nature: A Guide to the City’s Architecture + Landscape”

A vision is emerging for measured and proportional residential and commercial development, a visitor center and an art complex surrounded by community gathering places on Basalt’s downtown riverfront. The vision is to merge nature and culture as the centerpiece of our fabulous downtown. It incorporates residential and commercial development to bring vitality to downtown and create the financial leverage needed to make this project a reality.

The vision would encourage private development of a community art center, a restaurant/brewpub, affordable live/work housing, a visitor center and free-market housing to support the economics of the project, coupled with public development of the park to create a central gathering place. A restaurant, visitor center and an arts center complex will be a magnet for residents and visitors, and that vitality will spill out onto the park for weddings, concerts and special events.

We would commit to supporting events and attractions so that the park would activate the restaurant and the art center year round. Fly-fishing, rafting, volleyball tournaments, and boulder climbing for young and old right on our riverfront would be great for the recreationist and entertaining to watch from the decks of the restaurant and art center. Ice skating, cross-country skiing and other winter sports could be at our front door in the winter. We can have a great fountain on the park for kids to safely enjoy cooling off on those hot summer days. There would be a stage for theater and concert events that would pull families from the river’s edge near the bridge to the restaurant and art center across the way. And, there could be plenty of surface and garage parking without the need for costly underground parking.

Potential partners are expressing interest to build this vision. We are well-positioned with the resources to accomplish this project without a tax increase and without sacrificing our ability to maintain and improve our existing community parks and trails. We cannot solve all of our town’s needs, such as more day-care resources or hotel beds, on this one parcel. We can make strides toward economic development, relocating our visitor center and arts complex and creating a true center of our town.

Choosing this vision for the future of our river park and effectively leveraging this town asset to create economic vitality will allow us to focus on other needs not solved by this plan on this parcel.

We are your public servants and want to do what is right for the future of Basalt. Please contact me/us individually to share your ideas and thoughts or to dig into the financing side of this idea, so that we can move forward in the near future. You can reach me on 970-379-8854.

Jacque Whitsitt

Mayor, Basalt