Letter: Basalt River Park finish line in sight | AspenTimes.com

Letter: Basalt River Park finish line in sight

Basalt River Park finish line in sight

Here is a short comparison of the Pan and Fork ballot questions to alternatives from the financial perspective.

Much has been said accurately and inaccurately about ballot questions 2F and 2G. Basalt has invested about $5 million from the previous bond proceeds in the Pan and Fork. About $3.5 million is considered to have little chance of ever being returned in cash back to the taxpayers. The return of only about $1.5 million already invested is considered under our control due to the decision we make going forward. The funds already invested, plus the mega volunteer efforts, have brought Basalt to the crest of the hill. We are now at the current enviable decision point which now asks voters what they want to happen.

Improvements to a park need to be made one way or the other, and there will be an expense of one kind of another to be borne by the taxpayers at some point. This expense can be paid for by trading town assets, or by passing these one-time bond issue questions that will ensure an amazing future. The “non-cash” assets traded might be in the form of diminished park uses by allowing residential development, and or a diminished park size. The actual cost of top soil, trees, sod, a children’s play area, park benches, a concert shell, rest rooms, irrigation for the park and improvements to Two Rivers Road should all cost the taxpayer nearly the same regardless if the bond questions pass or not. But the bond issuance is a far better method compared to the alternatives.

Here are four other ways of how passing bond measures 2F and 2G will move Basalt forward better than the alternatives will. 1) Make the park event ready next year. 2) Give the most flexible control for Basalt to own and then select from the absolute best development proposals for the one-acre development parcel that give the broadest base of public serving economic vitality. 3) Allow the resale of the 1-acre development parcel to the highest bidder. 4) Give certainty to developers considering redevelopment of the Clark’s Market parcel area.

The bond issue also has very significant non-property taxpayer anticipated revenue sources (contributions or credits) that are not factored into what critics call the “worst case scenario” — a TABOR-compliant bond-tax projection that voters will see on their ballot. Anticipated revenue sources include county open space contributions, plus the resale of the to be developed acre, so the actual tax paid by property owning citizens should be surprisingly small — much, much less in total than the ballot question will state.

Passing 2F and 2G are the best options available. Passage will put the days of debate and an under-utilized vacant field behind, and secure the River Park prize in the most cost effective and flexible way possible. Please, cast your vote.

Mark Kwiecienski