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Disjointed concept will fall short
Steve Chase
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Editor:        

Sadly, I have to agree with your assessment about the CDC fiasco, but perhaps for different reasons and certainly with a different outcome in mind. 

Like many before you, when praising the value of the park space celebrating the river, they fail to see that there is also another 2.5 acres of natural habitat pathways across the river that could complement the park experience. Larry Yaw had suggested years ago that by adding a pedestrian bridge across the river from the approximate location of the RMI to the Basalt River Park behind the library would give the casual visitor a full circular pathway that truly focuses on the river and has, at least in part, more mature and natural foliage. 

Providing a welcoming entry(s) to that pathway would be an important part of the design, but most would agree that the corner of Midland and Two Rivers, with its high traffic and minimal parking opportunities, is probably not the best choice. Nonetheless, “that train has left the station.” 

Private residences, though creating some level of vibrancy, would pale in comparison to that brought by visitors throughout the year who could choose downtown as a destination as Jim DeFrancia’s concept of a “boutique hotel” would have provided. All of the amenities that are now requested (restaurant, commercial, “meeting space”) could all be provided within the facility and managed as such similar to what the Gant property or the Aspen Square provides in Aspen. 

Weddings, family retreats, corporate retreats, Cinco de Mayo, fishing expos could all be supported and serviced by “the hotel.” Instead we have a disjointed concept that will likely fall short on all those accounts. As a participant of this year’s Ride the Rockies, my wife and I stayed at the new Surf Hotel in Buena Vista. Great location along the river on a park and complemented by restaurants, shops and yes, some residences. It also boasts a great restaurant which we can confirm. 

It’s embarrassing that this “prison town” along Highway 24 has found a way to integrate this level of development while Basalt struggles to define itself with its more dramatically pristine setting. Sure, there are residents of Buena Vista who see Main Street and the hotel area as a blight on the natural setting, but as our councilor Bill Infante and town manager, Ryan Mahoney will attest, this development will put Buena Vista on the map. If one sees that as a bad thing and that open spaces are slowly being absconded by greedy developers, I guess there are many examples that prove that to be true. 

If we can agree, however, that our open spaces will continue to be a draw for others seeking the good life, than our challenge is to control future growth and provide infrastructure, employment and residential opportunities in the floor of our valley/corridor and make sure that the services are encouraged to support that population. It’s a bigger debate beyond the scope of my remarks, but as it pertains to Old Town Basalt, the park’s circular pathway could be exquisite! With landscape and hardscape it really could be exceptional. A well designed and architecturally attractive development along Two Rivers Road will make the town a well rounded commercial center for its 3,700 residents and visitors alike. 

The development need not dilute the waterfront experience, nor should the park diminish the potential contribution that a well-done expansion could do for the town. 

 

Steve Chase

Basalt