Letter: Are Basalt officials putting their agendas ahead of the process?

Are Basalt officials putting their agendas ahead of the process?

As a participant in numerous town-sponsored discussion sessions concerning the redevelopment of the Pan and Fork parcel, I am very discouraged to hear that the Basalt mayor and some Town Council members may be pushing a personal agenda to convert the entire Pan and Fork parcel into a park.

Basalt residents have already voted on this issue. In fact, we’ve voted twice on this issue. We passed a $5 million bond, by a 2 to 1 margin. The ballot said the money was to be used for “site redevelopment” along with “river restoration, floodplain mitigation, construction of park and street improvements.”

Many Basalt citizens are excited to see that parcel turned into a properly developed, vibrant, mixed-use property with half of the parcel devoted to park and green space that better connects us with the river, and the other half used for retail, nonprofit office space, condos to house teachers and other vital low-income workers who have been virtually shut out of the rental market, or possibly a small hotel to increase downtown vitality and provide desperately needed tourist beds. Those are the visions I heard repeatedly in the discussion sessions I attended. Those were also similar to the three development options that were given to hundreds of voters who participated in the online design election that occurred last month. If the town wanted us to vote on keeping the whole parcel as a field, the town should have presented that as an option when we voted.

People were feeling good about the transparent, open discussion that had been occurring in our town. So many citizens took the time to participate in this lengthy community discussion project. The mayor and other elected officials should not be bringing their personal agendas into this issue at this late hour, especially after the citizens had twice voted on it. It will take a long time before the public’s trust in Basalt town government is restored.

Stacey Craft