Letter: Stevens will restore civility

Two-and-a-half years ago, Basalt voters, by a decisive 2 to 1 margin, approved the $5 million Pan and Fork Bond ballot. The ballot language and the town’s own Fix the Fork website made it crystal clear what we were voting on: construction of a riverfront park and infrastructure improvements for some development near the Rocky Mountain Institute. Mayors are supposed to uphold democratic votes and work collaboratively with town government to implement the things that we vote on. Our current mayor has not done this.

Her governing style is notable for the seeds of confusion and animosity it has sown in our town. She has forced her personal agenda instead of upholding the vote. In the process, key facts about the Pan and Fork project have been distorted: she doesn’t need to fight for us “having a park” because we already locked away 3.6 acres of riverfront park with that bond election. Few attempts have been made to dispel misinformation. No one is advocating that we make downtown into a large Willits-style development, that’s just a false rumor. Some people still think we’ll have “high-end residences” downtown, when in reality, only a small condo hotel project has been proposed. In a condo hotel, units are purchased by people who want to vacation and live here, but who need nightly rental income to offset their mortgage. Basalt needs creative, flexible lodging like this. Tourism supports many residents’ livelihoods. A false dialogue — you’re either “pro-park” or you are not — has been created in our community, and that’s not healthy. Many of us are very worried that our town is being taken down a path that is not civil, is not financially sound and does not help us achieve goals that we all share (affordable housing, more day care, an underpass, a vibrant downtown, well-maintained parks and trails). These amenities are not free. We can either raise our already high property taxes and make it even more difficult for the older generation and working families to stay here and for the younger generation to make a home in our town, or we can generate tax revenue from sensible development that spawns downtown vitality. Instead of upholding the clear mandate residents delivered in the ballot vote, the current mayor has consistently worked against voters, even going so far as to encourage a park petition that, had it been accepted, would have forced the town to violate its own laws and state laws, according to the town’s attorney. (The town recently wasted more than $14,000 on legal bills while processing this petition).

Basalt voters have a choice: We can remain divided and muddled, or we can elect a new mayor. I’m voting for Rick Stevens. Over two decades he has built a proven track record of working collaboratively with residents and government entities to accomplish positive, financially sound goals. He cares deeply about the future of our town and we can trust him to restore genuine civility and a positive approach to our town planning process.

Stacey Craft