Letter: A chance to prevent sprawl
I am proud to live in a place where so many people have become engaged in shaping our downtown. The resident-driven Our Town planning process began in late 2013 with the objective of sourcing and documenting public input as it relates to three key downtown blocks. With more than 400 individual participants generating more than 3,000 unique ideas, a townwide survey, the Downtown Area Advisory Committee and more than two dozen meetings and chat sessions, the clear consensus is that change is welcome in downtown Basalt. However, even with all of this public engagement, I am concerned that we are, in fact, squandering an opportunity to set a precedent for thoughtful, balanced change. By opposing infill downtown, we are, in essence, advocating for outward sprawl — a consequence that will prove to have deeper detrimental impact to our town, our valley, our natural resources and our identity as a community in coming years.
We, as an engaged community, have an opportunity to choose to honor the spirit of the place by consolidating our development footprint where it belongs: downtown. This isn’t to say that we have to shore up our rivers with walls of brick and stone — quite the contrary. We need:
• To honor the river with a community that celebrates the river landscape, not memorializes it.
• Downtown-scale public space and river parks activated with and maintained by the public.
• Residents living nearby with a sense of ownership to keep the park vital, safe and attractive.
• A balance of development and public access, each a moot point without the other.
I urge the community to maintain a keen eye on the current Pan and Fork proposal while allowing the space for change that downtown so urgently needs. I support reasonably dense, river-oriented development of the Pan and Fork parcel and a process that allows for creative, balanced, solution-based, community-guided design. Let’s all support sustainable change. Please support downtown redevelopment.
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