Let river park developer massage his plan
June 28, 2018
I am and have always been a pro-Basalt voice over these last 5 years of relative stagnation. And I'm not in the pocket of developers as I have been characterized by the loud talking heads who have yet to present a rational, balanced and fiscally responsible alternative for the River Park property.
Having just completed my sixth Ride the Rockies tour, I had yet another opportunity to explore Colorado mountain communities. This time we rode in the northern mountain region from Breckenridge, through Edwards, to Steamboat, across to Grand Lake and Winter Park and back to Breckenridge. In past events I've been able to visit and revisit mountain towns across Colorado and ridden almost 3,000 miles on the seat of a bicycle (ouch!) That included most if not all of the better-known communities and so many others that might be described as drive throughs. In a car you might miss them altogether, but on a bicycle, you get a much better feeling for the community and the amenities or lack of them. True, maybe there isn't a ski mountain close by or proximity to a river or some other unique natural wonder that would encourage one to visit or even consider relocating permanently, but in Basalt's case we have it all!
But it has come at a price. We're loving our town to death and in the process, we've become terrified that somehow, we'll get it wrong. We don't trust the motivation of well-meaning neighbors, who also happen to be professionals in architecture and city planning, we don't trust each other and certainly not anyone who has "developer" attached to their name. We can thank the talking heads for that. We've invested in a waterfront park, actually two of them, that could be joined by a pedestrian bridge giving us five acres with the river running through it. (We very rarely see more than two or three visitors to either one). There is not a large enough population who would routinely visit the park as pedestrians and for the same reason we have few amenities locally to support our households' needs. As a consequence, most of us are in our cars seeking basic needs elsewhere.
"Basalt is an inclusive, sustainable mountain community that boasts both historic charm and progressive vision. It is an engaging place to live, work and play while offering an abundance of creative, professional, educational and recreational outlets." This is the mantra that was adopted by our council a year or two ago. You decide if much of this is hyperbole or wishful thinking. Clearly, downtown alone falls far short on several of these adjectives. But it doesn't need to be! Drop the skepticism and cynicism and help this present developer massage his plan so that the outcome is truly representative of what we want and what serves the community now an into its future.
The following are the foundational considerations that most of us have accepted:
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• Don't lose our small town charm
• Bring the rivers to the forefront of the town's identity
• Promote vitality and sustainablity (physical and economic)
• Connect the town to the rivers
• Preserve significant physical and visual access to the rivers
• Improve Lions Park
• Allow density to drive revitalization
• Provide a "there-there" destination for residents and guests alike
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