Letter: A vision of Basalt’s future
I’ve heard that the town of Basalt was still not settled on a path for the land by the river in town. I am certainly glad to hear this, and although I am late coming to the conversation, I would like to add some ideas to the ongoing discussion.
Firstly, it must be agreed that Basalt needs to become a place of attraction. While a hotel is sorely needed in Basalt, and a good one, too (by this I mean one with room service and meeting rooms — big ones!), it is a mistake to take the property, the place of attraction, and turn it over to a private entity. This riverfront property has the potential to become the heartbeat of Basalt, but only if the property stays open and designed to become a unique offering.
The property needs to be viewed as a park but, more than a park really, a place with high production value.
First, the amphitheater needs to be large enough to accommodate as many as 200 people and be closed off enough that is has some privacy and can be a venue that takes tickets. This allows this venue to be rentable. It also must have a killer view behind the stage. This theater can be a multipurpose venue for weddings, concerts, lecture series and meetings. The amphitheater, however, is not the only performing venue in the park. We also need a community dance floor (a decked area with the lights strung over, can’t you see it?) and a bandstand nearby for performances here. This dance floor area can be cordoned off for the wedding party or used for Saturday night dances or other such activities. If the property is set up properly, the bandstand can be used to entertain the dance-floor crowd, or turn the band the other way, and a large lawn is spread out, where a much larger event can transpire.
Aside from performance (hey, Basalt, did you notice the arts community is clamoring for a venue?), the park can host a variety of other offerings. The river here is such a beautiful draw. Where can we relax near the water midvalley? Perhaps here in Basalt on a beach with fire pits? With grills? With beautiful flower gardens that take your breath away? With pathways that are paved with artful stones and messages? We explore an animatronic sculpture garden that comes alive at night with sound and light. We have a place for children to enjoy the river by building a stream that is no higher than the ankle but fully paved, ending in a larger wading pool that looks like a pond. Has anyone recommended sand volleyball courts? A kayak course where Basalt can host exhibitions and competitions? We also need an area that is set aside for party tents and catering companies. We invite in food trucks (yum!) for the larger events.
Spring, summer and fall can be filled with exciting offerings if approached artfully and with high production value. In winter, we can transform the pool into ice skating; the animatronics take on a whole new shape under snow; and the paths are shoveled and we still walk our dogs, our guests and our families down to the river to observe its wintry beauty. Perhaps there is a garden area of different types of weeping pines. With Christmas lights strung throughout this winter wonderland, again, we have a lovely offering for our winter guests.
This property has more potential as a space that is given freely for all to enjoy. In return, this property will reap benefits for the town through rental income and increased visitor numbers. The uniqueness, the beauty and the artful use of this property will result in Basalt, rightly, becoming a place of attraction.
The hotel is also very important but can be placed in the center of town (the Clark’s Markets footprint?) and dig deeper and go higher than it ever could next to the river.
If you would like to join me in supporting this vision, please attend the Basalt town meeting at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at Town Hall.
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