Letter: Don’t kill Basalt’s soul | AspenTimes.com

Letter: Don’t kill Basalt’s soul

Don’t kill Basalt’s soul

Resolving the use of the development portion of the riverfront property in Basalt appears to be an intractable political dilemma, one contingent promoting a park and the other favoring mixed use (some combination of housing, guest accommodations, commercial, etc.). The Town Council has sponsored several “community participation” planning efforts over the past generation in an attempt to accurately determine resident desires. The concentrated and in-depth focus required of those who participated in these planning efforts yielded consistent results, all concluding that mixed use is preferable and the one path to a healthy downtown economy. In spite of consistency, a downtown plan is yet to be consensually solidified.

Historically, lack of town consensus during the high-growth years prior to the ’08 recession has significantly diminished downtown economic sustainability and social vitality. Specific contributing events include: moving the high school to the town’s remotest auto-only location; moving the post office and library outside the core (also auto-dependent); City Market and associated stores relocating to El Jebel; annexation of Willits, creating a new competing commercial and high-density residential community (with attendant congestion and inordinately high public-service costs); thwarting expansion of the Roaring Fork Club (whose residents contribute significantly to the core economy with near-zero public-service costs); rejection of mixed-use redevelopment of the Roaring Fork Mobile Home Park; and finally, rejection of several core-proximate residential projects in Southside and along the Highway 82 frontage roads.

It would appear that continuation of the historical pattern would result in the creation of a new Basalt town center at Willits and transform the old downtown into a low-rent, economically unsustainable, green oasis. Of real concern is that both would lack soul — the former for lack of patina, the latter for lack of people. There are a lot of smart folks in Basalt, so surely this unfortunate outcome can be avoided.

Don Ensign

Carbondale


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