Letter: The cost of doing nothing in Basalt

The river master plan adopted by the town of Basalt created a linear park along the Roaring Fork River. The plan contemplated new development and redevelopment focused on the linear park. The town has been diligent in obtaining almost 30 acres of the park. Only land from the Pan and Fork Mobile Home Park, two Stott parcels and the Jadwin parcel remain to be added.

The bond election for purchasing the Pan and Fork proposed private ownership and development on what is now the Community Development Corp. parcel. A new group wants to deny most or all the development on that parcel and create a bigger park.

With no commercial development on the Pan and Fork parcel, which passed by a 66 percent margin, the result would be a “cumulative town deficit on total investment of $10 million through 2032,” according to the Ehlers Co. consulting firm’s report on Nov. 10, commissioned by the Basalt Town Council. That amounts to $6,250 in cost per Basalt household (according to the 2010 U.S. census, there were 1,600 households in Basalt).

This is an unaffordable pipe dream. Residents need to understand the financial implications of the current petition drive.

The town’s financial adviser’s findings were very clear. Restricting development on the Community Development Corp. parcel would be a financial disaster for Basalt. The loss of property tax revenue and sales tax revenue and the increased debt will be devastating.

The purchase of the entire parcel would cost the town $7.5 million.

The purchase of half the parcel would cost the town $3.75 million.

The purchase of one-third of the parcel would cost the town $2.3 million.

The payoff of the current debt without a developer is $4.68 million.

The above costs exclude the cost of financing, which would increase those costs nearly 50 percent with interest expense.

The loss of the development would deny the town the economic benefits of new population, new businesses and new property and sales tax revenue.

Please consider the costs of doing nothing. It would be a financial disaster for generations.

Ted Guy