Letter: When fiction becomes fact we all lose

My opponent’s letter to the editor of March 24 (“I’m asking for your vote for small-town Basalt,” Commentary, The Aspen Times) makes quite a few assertions that she wants you to believe are facts.

Fiction 1: “First of all, many great things have happened in Basalt since I was elected to office eight years ago. After an economic downturn, the long-awaited Whole Foods grocery opened its doors.”

Fact: Jacque Whitsitt didn’t support the Whole Foods. Jacque has been against Willits from the beginning. Jacque consistently votes against business and people living in our town.

Fiction 2: “In our downtown, spaces that once were empty are alive and kicking.”

Fact: We have about 35,000 to 40,000 square feet of vacant space downtown — worse now than during the recession.

Fiction 3: “My opponent has argued for up to 150,000 square feet of buildings lining the street along the river” and has supported high-end residential to make developers’ numbers work.

Fact: I won’t know what I can or cannot support without a real application (none have been submitted).

Fiction 4: “I believe that the Pan and Fork park can and should be Basalt’s identity. … Citizen petitioners have said the same. They want an active legacy park.”

Fact: The only scientific survey done showed 40 percent of residents supported a park and 60 percent supported some level of development. The community’s current vision that says the Pan and Fork should be part park and part development.

Fiction 5: “Private development should pay its own way.”

Fact: Jacque supports the Willits RTA, which just handed the Willits investors $300,000 to reimburse them for their public-improvement costs.

Fiction 6: “I also believe that there should be a demonstrated community need before we approve large developments like those my opponent champions.”

Fact: It’s the sales tax from Willits that supports our town. Development has and will continue to pay for community needs (like the Basalt underpass). As for championing large developments, outside of Willits I’m not sure what my opponent is talking about.

Fiction 7: “Recently, my opponent voted for a $15 million subsidy for the Willits investors and to approve an additional 90,000 square feet of buildings.”

Fact: $10 million was the ask. Half of the subsidy is an assessment the Willits investors put on themselves. The other $5 million is only available if they collect more money than they currently generate in sales, after they build the full project and only for a period of time. They are then only eligible for half of what’s available, with the town keeping the other half. Without the 90,000 square feet, we wouldn’t have gotten about 20,000 square feet in much-needed teacher housing.

The race for mayor has caused my opponent to try and turn fiction into fact. So let me make this clear: I continue to support a park on the majority of the Pan and Fork site, I support some level of development on the site, I continue to believe we should support businesses in our town, I believe we need housing for people and I continue to believe that it is our job as Town Council members to unite the community, not divide it.

If you believe in those things then vote for me. I’ll let the facts speak for themselves.

Rick Stevens