Letter: Mix up the makeup of Basalt council
There are many, myself included, who feel the world, all around, would be a better place if its testosterone level were lowered. We can do our part right here in Basalt. Two new candidates running for Town Council are women: Jenn Riffle and Katie Schwoerer. Adding these two to the council can change its dynamics.
For decades, almost yearly, the council waits to hear from developers and their architects on what they have planned for new development in Basalt. After the usual public tweaking process, the town gets, for the most part, the developer concept, whose primary concern is acceptable return on investment — something that is entirely appropriate and necessary but does not always give the best outcome for the public.
We can satisfy all parties, with some resident objections notwithstanding, if the town would take the time, effort and money to plan what it wants and where (beyond broad generalities as in the Downtown Area Advisory Committee) for the downtown area and commit to working with the developers to give them adequate assurance of a fair return. The town has a lot of flexibility here if it wants to use it. The process begins and continues with collaboration rather than the destructive bickering we get now.
The general plan with public input that we have spent months generating needs to be done by designers and planners who have no financial stake in the outcome but can design projects that work for the residents and attract real interest from developers for their financial viability. Expediency for the sake of quick economic stimulation should not pre-empt good land use. The riverside-park planning was short-circuited by an untimely insertion of specific architect and developer plans that all but closed the door on a chance for a better outcome, and the bickering was upon us.
Studies have shown, in “Broad Influence, How Women Are Changing the Way America Works,” by Jay Newton-Small, that 20 to 30 percent critical mass is all that is required in a governing body for women to move it in a new direction. They tend to work together, even with diverse opinions, to find common ground that works for all parties.
Change in gender makeup of the Town Council (three women members) I believe can dislodge old thinking and make Basalt a better place.