Letter: Time to get realistic in Basalt

The Basalt Our Town process has unexpectedly divided the community. The town mayoral race pits a present councilor (and ex-mayor) against the present mayor (and ex-council member). But the rift is one of vision: the need to inject vitality versus the need to preserve our small-town character. The battleground lies on a 2.3-acre parcel on the former Pan and Fork trailer park.

First, the park: I looked to the 2013 Basalt Area Parks, Open Space and Trails Master Plan. In summary, the total Basalt-area parks acreage is 452.31 acres. More specifically, Basalt owns or has jointly acquired Arbaney, Triangle, Old Pond, Crown Mountain, Confluence, Fishermans, Midland, Willits Recreational and Linear, Southside, Lions Park, Gisella Fiou Skate Park and the proposed Kayak Park — as a partial list. Of these, riverfront parks alone total 34.19 acres. Taxing ourselves $5 million to $10 million to buy and maintain 2.3 acres seems frivolous given our present abundance.

Next, the vitality: Can Basalt sustain an injection of vitality while preserving its small-town character? Nobody complained of too much vitality when downtown also had a cooking store, a furniture store, a card shop, a deli, clothing shops with kids clothes and toys, home decor shops, an antique store, a bookstore, a flower shop, a bike shop, an outdoor-recreation store, a grocery store and more restaurants and coffee shops. But those businesses have either folded entirely or moved to other valley locations. Generally, most proprietors were women or husband-and-wife teams — no big boxes. Another common thread: They struggled to stay open year-round, catering to the townspeople and seasonal visitors. Vitality means year-round.

Rick Stevens’ mayoral candidacy mixes concern for community character with dealing with realistic needs. He favors seeing the parcel purchased independently and a portion of the land developed with a hotel-restaurant to generate new business and income for Old Town Basalt. He has both the broad vision to look at our town’s short- and long-term needs (senior and employee housing, day care centers and street improvements) and the leadership to move us forward. I hope you will join me in voting for Rick Stevens to make this vision a reality for our town.

Carolyn Kane