Fait accompli in Basalt
October 9, 2017
Mark Kwiecienski wrote a letter ("Stop the Basalt propaganda," Oct. 1, The Aspen Times), recently stating that I had my facts wrong on the Pan and Fork property in Basalt. While I do not believe he is correct, in the end it doesn't matter. Because what the town is poised to do is blatantly obvious, and Mark, you have already won. So perhaps you ought to just kick back and relish your ill-gotten victory.
This is how it will go:
There will be a report from outside consultants. The report will state that everything will be just fine, thank you, when (not if) the town purchases the portion of the Pan and Fork parcel it doesn't already own. This is despite the fact that less than a year ago we were lamenting the austerity required in the town budget merely for the town to meet essential services and basic reserve funding. The town will then take on more debt, to be repaid with taxpayer dollars, and purchase the property.
A council member recently informed me that council is seriously considering (read: absolutely, definitely will) zoning the property in a way that does not allow for condo-style hotels. So the property will be down-zoned in an elaborate attempt, at taxpayer expense, to elbow out a development proposal that hasn't even been proposed yet.
With this developer cast aside for good, the town will sit on this newly acquired property for more years, because any development has to pencil out economically, and one small building on the far end of the property simply won't. Eventually some small scale building will get approved next to Rocky Mountain Institute, and there will be no continuity or flow with downtown, and certainly not the sorely needed hotel. The town will spend millions on making the parcel almost all park, producing no revenue, and there will be nearly no use in the winter.
Mark, let's make a friendly wager that this is precisely how this goes down. And congratulations on your preordained victory.
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