Letter: Poking holes in Basalt petition

What questions to ask before signing a petition in Basalt:

• With the recent bond issue for our schools adding significantly to our property taxes, would this be the last request for additional taxation? Doesn’t the petition completely ignore the Economic Feasibility Study that the town invested in that concludes: “We can’t give up revenues (reimbursements) and cover future debt that has been obligated” ($5 million bond issue 2013 — 12 years left to go at $369,000 per year).

• Even if we could get some public funding from nonprofits, is this the best use of our resources? What are some of the issues that might be higher priorities for the betterment of the town? Might they include catching up on our badly worn infrastructure and the monies needed to complete the pedestrian Southside underpass? What about our participation in supporting affordable-housing efforts? How much more are we likely to be asked to pony up?

• Would the requested $3 million include the hard and soft landscaping, the annual maintenance and the desired amenities required to convert this open field to a world-class park?

• Doesn’t the topography of the park, with the drainage across the middle, limit the activities that might be considered? What activities are you thinking might be appropriate? Isn’t this better to be considered a “passive park” with music events on weekends for three months in the summer? How would the park function and serve as a benefit to the community in the offseasons that would likely be as much as seven months?

• Wouldn’t this lead to a diminished amount of space within the town boundaries for residential prospects and hence make our present properties even more unaffordable? How would a park support young families who are struggling to find housing, work and preschool opportunities so that both parents might be able to work and afford to live in Basalt?

• How might this serve to stimulate renewed vitality in our downtown commercial core which continues to lose ground? How would future rents for commercial space be affected?

• Might we be missing a huge opportunity to provide employment for people who could stay in Basalt and not add to further congestion on Highway 82?

• Are we ignoring the revenues that would be generated by resort and sales taxation, consumer activity and increased foot traffic throughout the town? Might that revenue support not just the town, but our schools and open spaces?

• How has the four-story Element hotel become the poster child for what we don’t want in downtown Basalt? Hasn’t it been clarified that a 75,000-square-foot footprint is really a two-story structure on less than an acre (44,000 square feet = 1 acre; 1/2 of 75,000 is 37,500 square feet)

• When and where do we stop feeding at the trough of further taxation and donation and begin to engage professional planners to make smart decisions about smart use of space? (Even when they also happen to be our neighbor.)

Steve Chase