Letter: Basalt skeptics are out of touch | AspenTimes.com

Letter: Basalt skeptics are out of touch

Basalt skeptics are out of touch

Are you tired of our local pundits putting their own spin on issues that they see from 60,000 feet?

Before the economic downturn in 2008, downtown Basalt was a vibrant community with wonderful restaurants surrounded by terrific shops, galleries and professional offices — an evolving community that attracted visitors from up and down the valley. Revenues from all these businesses fed the aspirations and dreams of the residents of the community — whether it was from an increase in property values, increased support for our schools and other public resources, or the exciting viability of our commercial sector. Downtown Basalt was a “happening place.”

The Pan & Fork trailer park continued on its 50- to 60-year deterioration, violating building codes and occupancy rates for dwellings meant for single families and being a major eyesore in the center of our town. Only upon its removal did we realize what a blight it truly was as we uncovered the living conditions that had existed “under our watch.” For all those decades, access to the river in downtown — visual or otherwise — did not exist.

Eighty percent of the voters supported the bond issue that was to support the repair of the tenuous wetlands adjacent to the river, putting the residents of the trailer park at risk and preserving that space as a park for all to enjoy. Those of us who worked so hard to educate our fellow citizens were enthusiastic about recapturing the waterfront, but none of us imagined that the entire parcel would be dedicated to open space. The vast majority of us have remained deeply involved in “the process” to make sure that development of that portion of the property adjacent to Two Rivers Road would respect the scale of the town, public access to the river and support an economic revitalization of the town that lost so much in the last five years. “We” just happens to include not just architects, developers and contractors, who are also real people, but that 80 percent were residents with a real passion to see Basalt grow in a way that preserves its unique character.

We’ve now spent months allowing all citizens to participate in the planning process in a multitude of venues. It only makes sense that we now engage professionals to help interpret our dreams. The Town Council is expected to respect the outcome and support the wishes of the people and not put their own spin on a process that they created! If the pundits had visited all the chat sessions, our working lab in downtown and several open public meetings, they would be more respectful of the process that we’ve chosen to pursue. Go somewhere else to sell your skepticism with inflammatory rhetoric — please!

Steve Chase