Basalt council will consider parkland purchase for $1.34 million

Scott Condon
The Aspen Times
This conceptual plan for the former Pan and Fork site shows where development would be clustered and what would remain as park. The town is considering a purchase of the in the upper right corner for $1.34 million.
Courtesy image

Basalt Town Council will potentially vote Tuesday on spending about $1.34 million to buy land that would expand a park along the Roaring Fork River.

Council will start its final review of a development project called the Basalt River Park. The proposal includes free-market and employee housing, a 3,000-square-foot restaurant, space for the Art Base community arts center and the sale of nearly 1 acre of vacant land to the town government. The land — at the intersection of Two Rivers Road and Midland Avenue — would be added to an adjacent park the town already owns.

An ordinance on the proposed transaction said the purchase price would be $31.70 per square foot. The town is negotiating to buy approximately 41,000 square feet for addition to the park, producing an expenditure of $1.34 million.

In a recent interview, Town Manager Ryan Mahoney said the funds would come from the town’s open space sales tax rather than the general fund. The town has a special tax dedicated to buying and developing open space, parks and trails.

The town will require an appraisal of the property while completing the transaction. Even if the appraised value is greater than $31 per square foot, the town will only pay that amount, according to Mahoney. If the appraised value is lower, the lower price will be paid, he said.

Since it’s an active land-use file, town officials cannot discuss the matter in advance. However, acquiring additional land for the park and limiting development on the former Pan and Fork Mobile Home Park site has been a longtime goal for several council members. The community also debated the proper mix of park and development for nearly a decade. Voters narrowly rejected a proposal in November 2016 to buy the entire 2.3-acre parcel for $3.1 million. That purchase required bonding. This purchase does not.

Now, a development group headed by Tim Belinski has a contract to buy the 2.3 acres from owner Roaring Fork Community Development Corp. Belinski’s plan has always included selling nearly 1 acre to the town.

The proposed deal also calls for Belinski’s group to sell the town 5,000 square feet of space in the development for the Art Base for $160,000. The town’s intent is to resell the space to the Art Base as soon as the nonprofit can afford it.

The plan by Belinski’s group restricts development to about 52% of the 2.3 acres along Two Rivers Road. The commercial and residential development will be clustered on the western end of the property.

The plan includes:

A 3,000-square-foot restaurant with a 1,500-square-foot deck that overlooks the park.

24 residences, including 20 free-market units and four affordable housing units.

11,500 square feet of commercial space.

The Basalt Planning and Zoning Commission voted 7-0 on Jan. 21 to recommend approval of the plan.

If council passes the ordinances to approve the development plan and purchase the park space, they will advance to a public hearing and second reading Feb. 25.

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