Letter: Don’t let greed prevail
Over the past 40 years, I have planned several projects in Basalt for both public and private clients (Basalt River Corridor Plan, Elk Run, Stott’s Mill planned-unit devlopment, early work on The Roaring Fork Club and others). During that period, which preceded the 2008 recession, Basalt experienced rapid growth at a rate that alarmed many residents. In response, the community spawned vocal special-interest groups derogatorily termed NIMBYs (Not in my back yard). The concerns of most NIMBY groups are perfectly genuine. During the time I was actively engaged with the town, I anecdotally identified five specific interest groups, all entirely legitimate except the fifth as follows: • Lifestyle — Many residents live in Basalt for lifestyle reasons (security, cultural richness, convenience, neighborliness, amenities, etc.) and for whom any growth may be viewed as a lifestyle threat.
• Environment — Many folks have deeply passionate local and global environmental concerns whereby any development may have negative environmental consequences if not properly executed.
• Traffic Congestion — More traffic can be agonizing for family life, household budgets and even real estate values.
• Community Character — For those, views, sun access, quiet streets, open space and charm are fundamental to enduring community quality, thus creating opposition to any change.
• Greed — This group’s agenda is based on the assumption that limiting housing supply increases demand, presumably generating higher property values.
I know this lethal strategy to be factual as I’ve heard it articulated and discussed at informal gatherings, including tactics to recruit unsuspecting supporters. This divisive group regularly shapes a clever conspiracy, thwarting responsible growth with self-serving intractability often accompanied by threat of legal action. These individuals are known to some who advocate legitimate special interests. However, it would be strategically beneficial for all special-interest groups and community leaders to be aware of these unconscionable people and devise a means to neutralize their nefarious activities. Unfortunately, the consequence of this toxic NIMBYism precludes responsible downtown development that is so important to long-term sustainability of the community.
Once this destructive contingent is identified, it may be an effective countermeasure to challenge opposition by reference to the master plan: “which specific master plan tenet is the basis for resistance?”
The challenge would be applicable to growth policy consideration and/or proposed projects. It seems that this, along with other facilitating actions, will be necessary to break the interminable log jam that is squandering the remarkable opportunities inherent in Basalt’s core.
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I was disturbed by Aspen High School Principal Sarah Strassburger’s April 11 guest commentary: “State board of education representative off mark on Aspen High Survey.”