Letter: Don’t change Basalt | AspenTimes.com

Letter: Don’t change Basalt

Don’t change Basalt

The citizens of Basalt are being asked to vote on three plans to determine future development. If you don’t like any of these plans — and there is a good chance you don’t — too bad, because that’s all you get to choose from. If you vote online, you can’t even vote for “none of the above.” The majority of Basalt residents prefer no growth or slow growth, but they have to just get over it.

At an initial work session for City Council and the Planning and Zoning Commission, a sailing metaphor was introduced by the Town Manager. When you are going into the wind (i.e. public opinion) you must tack. In other words, zig and zag toward a goal even if it is resisted by the citizens. Town Hall really feels that it must push a new plan for Basalt through, whatever the citizens might think.

Why all this effort to “plan Basalt?” We’ve been through a recession and then Whole Foods came on line and some businesses relocated to Willits. The merchants in East Basalt began to panic. Revitalize Basalt was the mantra. Ignore the fact that business goes through cycles and bring back the boom years! Amidst all this fear, the Green Drake underwent an extensive remodel instead of a highly speculative redevelopment. The grand plans for a major development at the “fish motel” got replaced with a reasonable short-term housing project for visiting anglers.

There are empty stores, many in Riverwalk, because of overdevelopment and the recession. But now all options are for more buildings. Architects and planners — because that’s what they do — have done a number of sketches adding buildings along Two Rivers Road, Midland Spur and Midland itself. More empty buildings; and we don’t get to refuse.

When you go downtown (i.e. to Midland Avenue) in the afternoon or evening you will find the street lined with cars with only a rare parking space. Someone told me that the reason there are so many cars on Midland is because the employees are parking there. If it is true that there are that many employees, then everyone with a business must be busy.

Basalt is in the midst of recovery. It always had its ups and downs but continues to grow slowly. It doesn’t need a kick in the pants to get moving. What are needed are a well-managed grocery store and a hardware store. Move the town offices into Riverwalk and vacate Lion’s Park. Leave the buildings out of the Pan and Fork to create a beautiful park. Quit adding more buildings to go empty in the next slump.

We should accept Old Town for what it is: a bedroom community and a pleasant place to live and enjoy. Base its economy on recreation, the pursuit of community and the enjoyment of life. Shopping, consumption, depleting the earth’s resources and growth can be left to West Basalt. In the words of our first woman mayor, “Why would you want to move to Basalt and change it?’

Gerry Terwilliger


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