New Year’s redemption for Charlie ‘Basalt’ Brown?

If you live in Basalt, Charles Schultz’s cartoon character Charlie Brown and his Halloween story should sound unsettlingly familiar to you. The Peanuts gang goes out for treats. Everyone gets fabulous treats during that foray and happily announce what they got, except Charlie Brown, who in his plaintive voice says, “I got a rock.”

The partnership created in 2011 between the “nonprofit” Roaring Fork Development Corp. and Basalt continues to subject taxpayers to a worse experience than Charlie Brown’s. Taxpayers put in about 72 percent of all the money needed to purchase all the land, mitigate flood, install utilities, and remove low-income families and their mobile homes, yet all the commercial value created via the joint venture — 2.3 acres of prime river front area that is out of the floodplain, still remains entrusted to RFCDC, even though their contribution was about 28 percent of the total.

This arrangement treats taxpayer dollars like private property without having gone through due process. It continues to compromise the Basalt Town Council’s ability to negotiate zoning and approvals from a position of strength and to allow the free market to work for the citizens.

If Basalt would just complete the purchase, like a normal town would, and follow a normal municipal protocol process in the subsequent resale of the half to be redeveloped, Charlie Brown could regain some self respect in 2018. The alternative is condemning Charlie to walk about with a confused look and soiled pants into the future.

Mark Kwiecienski