Letter: Something’s not right in Basalt
Something’s not right in Basalt
We want to share this with you and encourage you to lend support if you also think that there may be an injustice that should be addressed and changed.
We would not have paid too much attention to this issue and the Workers for Justice and Diversity in Basalt if not for our daughter and step daughter, Sophia Clark. Sophia is nothing if not passionate and devoted. She has a professional and personal interest in what is happening at the Pan and Fork and happening to its residents. She has heightened our awareness and that has led to our belief that “something is not right.”
Our town, Glenwood, as well as most of the neighboring towns, including Basalt, have the stated desire and need for fostering diversity, increasing affordable housing and retaining a small-town character as major parts of their comprehensive plans. Basalt’s comprehensive plan had encouraged increasing the formula for adding affordable housing in new developments.
Whether pledge or promise or simply a discussion, the Basalt Pan and Fork families were led to believe for a long time that they were likely to receive significant assistance or replacement housing that would be fair and would enable them to remain in their community.
At some point it seems that the town of Basalt changed the direction of the dialogue. It appears that as it became more difficult and more expensive to provide the housing alternative, the town changed its affordable-housing requirements and the intent to replace housing. Instead it appears that there is an accelerated schedule to remove families with a small subsidy rather than housing. Recent conversations seemed to indicate a temporary-housing option in mid-valley. This is not keeping families in Basalt and near their schools.
The result may be devastating to many of these families. They are being forced to leave their neighborhood and central location. They may be forced out of Basalt and also out of the schools their children attend. They are being disrupted in winter as well as during a school year.
The fact that most of the residents are Hispanic and have lower incomes adds an element of possible discrimination and economic arrogance. We doubt that this would happen at Riverside Drive, Roaring Fork Club, Ranch at Roaring Fork or Aspen Glen if there were both a remote chance of flooding and a desire by a city to increase park land and commercial opportunities in these communities.
Recent information indicates that getting an attorney to represent the Workers for Justice and Diversity in Basalt has halted the communication with the city. It appears to us that the city is always represented by an attorney. When faced with complex financial decisions, a government entity negotiating with you and possible eviction, having legal advice and guidance makes total sense and adds a degree of fairness to the process.
There are always many sides to an issue and more questions than answers. Also, this is not a purely private-enterprise endeavor. If it were, it might not be any more correct, but the rights of the owners might have relatively more weight than the renters. This is, however, a government-town making the majority of the decisions.
It does not seem right. We would say the same thing in our own backyard and anywhere else in our valley. We would urge you to add your weight to this issue and encourage or demand that Basalt slow this process down, to further and fairly address the requests of the Workers for Justice and Diversity in Basalt and find a way to keep these families with their friends and neighbors and in their schools and in their jobs and in their town.
Thanks for reading and we hope you might also think that something is not right and share this with like-minded friends and Basalt.
Sumner Schachter and Michele Diamond
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In her column “The ‘L’ word” (Aspen Times, Jan. 16), Elizabeth Milias raises the existential question to which so many have claimed to either know or be the answer: What is a local?