Green initiatives rank well in survey of Basalt residents
The Aspen Times
Basalt’s green side is shining through during work on a new master plan.
Residents who participated in an open house Nov. 13 were asked to prioritize projects in four different price points, with the smallest category less than $300,000 and the largest more than $1 million. Three of the top five projects in the survey were environmental initiatives and a fourth would reap environmental benefits by reducing travel by personal vehicle.
The citizen input showed the Town Council was aligned with its constituency earlier this year when it declared a climate emergency, said Basalt planning directory Susan Philp. The climate emergency means Basalt officials will weigh the impacts of any decision on climate change, at least in theory.
For citizens, the highest priority in the $50,000 to $300,000 category was, “Make capital investments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at $100,000 per year for 10 years, or similar investments.” That received 37 votes.
In the $300,000 to $500,000 category, the highest priority project was, “Complete firewise mitigation projects at urban fringe/wildland-urban interface.” That received 34 votes.
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Basalt and the entire midvalley received a wake-up call about drought conditions and wildlife danger in July 2018 when the Lake Christine Fire broke out. That lesson remains etched in the memories of some folks, as proven by the desire to improve firebreaks.
In the $1 million-plus range, two of the three highest priority projects for citizens were environmentally related, either directly or indirectly.
Thirty-eight citizens favored starting a connector shuttle between Old Town and Willits on a year-round basis. That made it second on the wish list.
Third on the list was, “Invest in significant solar project or similar large emissions reduction project.” That received 34 votes.
The open house was attended by 125 people. People who couldn’t attend were allowed to vote online. The responses to the project priority survey were shared with the Basalt Planning and Zoning Commission on Tuesday and will be presented to the Town Council on Jan. 14. Both boards will vote on the master plan, so the survey might hold sway.
The top-rated project by citizens in any price category was, “Build a significant affordable housing project.” That was favored by 53 respondents in the $1 million-plus category.
Six projects were grouped close together for the next spots, all getting between 38 and 33 votes. Those projects were the in-town shuttle (38 votes); capital improvements to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (37 votes); invest in a significant solar project (34 votes); firewise mitigation (34 votes); construct additional pedestrian bridge over the Roaring Fork River east of the library (34 votes); and “Implement significant Midland Avenue streetscape improvements” (33 votes).
Two major projects that have been contemplated for years made the top 10 project priority list, but toward the bottom. Constructing an underpass to connect Southside Drive and Midland Avenue had 29 votes. An underpass has been contemplated from the Basalt Library over to the area by Big O Tires. The expense has made it difficult to pursue.
Redevelopment of the Clark’s Market parcel and surrounding commercial area is an aspiration mentioned by numerous Basalt officials, but it tallied only 19 votes in the citizen survey. However, it scored an impressive tally for a write-in candidate. It wasn’t on the official lost of project in the survey, but one citizen wrote it in and 18 others voted for it.
Full results for the survey at the open house are available at https://letstalk.basalt.net/3314/documents/6863. Those don’t include additional votes from the online survey.
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Richard Miller and Allison Marcus were sentenced to 45, days in jail, 1,500 hours of useful public service and $100,000 of restitution on June 30, 2019, as their sentence for starting the Lake Christine Fire the prior year. They have made significant strides in fulfilling their debt to society, according to the district attorney’s office.