Letter: Goals for downtown Basalt | AspenTimes.com

Letter: Goals for downtown Basalt

Downtown Basalt’s assets are a town planner’s dream: friendly, accommodating residents and shopkeepers, plentiful parking, clean air, benign climate, unlimited recreation opportunities, etc. The core’s physical assets are equally advantageous: two crystalline streams, river-edge public lands for parks and trails, no stream barriers (rail tracks, highways, utilities, etc.), a historic shopping district, minimal traffic, pedestrian-friendly streets and other enabling attributes — difficult to find a better place to live.

Just as important, the town master plan seems purposely fashioned to capitalize on downtown assets. However, the plan would be a much more effective growth-management tool if its intent were more lucid. To that end, the list below seeks to distill the goals for greater clarity. In this form, they could be used to evaluate both policy and project decisions — either a proposal satisfies the goals or it does not. Goal clarity could dramatically reduce ambivalence for development proponents, growth regulators and elected officials.

Taken a step further, clear goals could be score-sheet-formatted for use by staff and the council to expedite decision making, perhaps making the process engaging and fun:

Goals condensed to concise statements:

Goal 1: Preserve open space (agricultural, river frontage, other).

Goal 2: Establish compact, efficient, pedestrian- and transit-oriented development with distinct commercial centers.

Goal 3: Build community facilities (schools, religious facilities, libraries, etc.) in close proximity to existing centers.

Goal 4: Locate compact, higher-density, mixed-use development around commercial centers that serve as gathering places.

Goal 5: Construct the transportation/street system to provide alternative circulation routes and modes (pedestrian, bikes, transit) and reduce vehicular use.

Goal 6: Confine growth within the 3-mile urban growth area with a clear boundary between urban and rural land uses.

Goal 7: Restrict the pace of growth to ensure social and economic sustainability.

Goal 8: Retain Basalt’s unique, small-town character via appropriately scaled buildings and parking close to the town center.

Goal 9: Build diverse housing (types and prices) proximate to existing commercial and transit centers.

Goal 10: Provide diverse, year-round recreational opportunities for residents and tourists of all ages.

Goal 11: Preserve the natural landscape (streams, surface waters and wildlife habitat areas, riparian areas, etc.).

Goal 12: Capitalize on town assets (the Roaring Fork and Fryingpan rivers, town scale/character, Midland Avenue architectural heritage).

Goal 13: Create sustainable economic growth by providing a broad range of job opportunities, goods and services for locals and visitors.

Goal 14: Enhance community safety through planning, education, training and coordinated community response.

Don Ensign