Basalt residents can help settle density, other issues at Wednesday open house
The Aspen Times
IF YOU GO:
What: Basalt Master Plan open house
When: 5:30 to 7 p.m. Wednesday
Where: Basalt High School
Purpose: Settle issues for draft plan
Basalt residents will be able to weigh in Wednesday night on everything from the development density on four key parcels of land to whether more art should be displayed in public spaces.
The town government and its consultants are holding an open house that will help steer the direction of an updated master plan. The meeting will feature a heavy dose of audience participation.
Heather Henry, principal with Connect One Design, a Basalt firm hired as a consultant on the master plan, said the master plan process has advanced to a point where specific input is needed to create the draft.
“Early feedback gets put in a pretty big cauldron and stirred around,” she said.
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As issues get fleshed out, public input in later stages has a greater impact.
In one example of how public opinion will be harnessed, Henry said attendees will be given four poker chips when they enter the meeting. After hearing presentations on different density options on four key parcels, they will be able to cast their chip on the scenario they prefer.
The parcels include the Meyer’s ranch east of Elk Run subdivision, the Clark’s Market/Basalt Center Circle property downtown, the Jadwin-Stott land near the post office and undeveloped land at Southside.
In addition to “voting” with a poker chip, attendees will be able to offer comments about the density prospects, Henry said.
Attendees also will be asked at stations at the open house to indicate what types of civic improvement projects they prefer. The projects will be separated from relatively inexpensive (public art, sidewalk connections, improved fishing access) to more pricey (a public parking garage). Residents will be able to weigh in on projects in different price points.
The master plan process was launched in April. There have been three prior open houses that attracted up to 100 participants, 10 small group sessions and six neighborhood meetings. Consultants have ridden along with town staff, such as police officers and public works employees, to tap their experiences. A special picnic for Latino residents was held to encourage their participation. Consultants also took one for the team by holding a pub crawl in June to gather feedback.
“The meat of the matter is we’ve gone through a detailed public process that was well-attended,” said Wayne Freeman, principal-in-charge of CTA Group, a consultant for the town. “Now, there are decisions that need to be made.”
The goal is to have a draft plan prepared for scrutiny by the end of the year.
The consultants said about 4,975 “data points” have been collected during the process. That ranges from people filling out a survey to making a comment at a meeting. That doesn’t mean 4,975 different people have participated. It means the people participating have offered that amount of input.
Basalt planning director Susan Philp said one clear direction during the process was citizens want density over sprawl. Now it needs to be determined what level of density people would support.
The consultants compiled a list of other findings from the data points. They include:
• 15% of data points identified “governmental issues” such as lack of communication and lack of action.
• 12% urged increasing the affordable housing options.
• 11% identified redevelopment of the Clark’s Market parcel.
• 11% said more vitality is needed in Old Town.
• 8% said keep the quaint, small-town atmosphere.
• 8% said “do something” with the former Pan and Fork Mobile Home Park site.
• 8% identified a need for a circulator shuttle between various sections of town.
• 8% said enhance the rivers through town.
• 7% said Willits is pulling traffic/resources from Old Town.
Town Manager Ryan Mahoney said Tuesday the consultants started collecting data points before the Town Council approved a conceptual plan for the Pan and Fork. In addition, input was collected while the town was still wrestling with how to rectify overcharging property taxes. The issue was resolved in October by issuing refunds for the past four years of property tax over-collections.
He believes those actions have altered opinions on “government issues” and “do something” on the Pan and Fork. The consultants have noted fewer data points on those issues later in the process, Mahoney said.
The town’s current master plan was created in 2007. Mahoney said the update will guide the town government for at least a decade and probably longer.
“It talks about how the community is going to grow over the next several years,” he said.
Philp said the plan also would provide critical guidance to landowners on what the public would like to see developed.
Wednesday’s meeting will be held from 5:30–7 p.m. at Basalt High School. Kids activities and food will be provided.
Those who cannot attend the open house can visit http://www.letsTALK.basalt.net/engage to vote for priority projects and key parcel preferences. The online voting will begin Friday and remain open through Nov. 25. Results will be tallied along with those from the open house.
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