Owner of embattled Basalt property frustrated by lack of progress
The Aspen Times
PAN AND FORK OUTCOME
Question 2F asked Basalt voters if they wanted to spend up to $3.1 to acquire 2.3 acres of land.
Voters in the Eagle County part of the town voted 653 for and 743 against.
Voters in the Pitkin County part of the town voted 247 for and 234 against.
Unofficial final tally is 900 for and 977 against.
The head of a development firm with an option to buy 2.3 acres of land near downtown Basalt said Wednesday his company remains willing to work with the town on a project that works for everyone.
Figuring out exactly what that project is after Tuesday’s election will be the challenge, acknowledged Jim DeFrancia, president of Lowe Enterprises.
“I’ll need to caucus with the landowner next week,” DeFrancia said. He also wants to meet soon with town officials to see if they can come up with a framework “to make this work.”
A proposal was on the Basalt ballot Tuesday for the town to buy the 2.3 acres for up to $3.1 million. It failed by a vote of 900 for and 977 against, or a margin of 48 to 52 percent.
The landowner, the nonprofit Roaring Fork Community Development Corp., is getting frustrated waiting for the community to decide what it wants to do with the property.
“What I really hope is that Basalt figures out how to say ‘yes’ to something,” said Michael McVoy, president of the Community Development Corp.
The nonprofit borrowed money to acquire the property in 2011. It worked with developer Richard Myers, who submitted a preliminary application for up to 150,000 square feet of development.
The town wasn’t convinced Myers was a suitable developer after commissioning an independent financial analysis to assess his plan.
Community Development Corp. next worked with Lowe, which brought forward a proposal that was met with widespread community opposition, McVoy noted.
Now, Basalt residents rejected buying the land in Tuesday’s election.
The ballot question called for 1.3 of the acres to be added to a riverside park the town intends to develop on land it already owns.
The other one-acre piece would have been reserved for commercial or “community-serving” development.
McVoy said community members are obviously divided over uses of the former Pan and Fork Mobile Home Park site.
“They don’t want to pay money, but they don’t want to see development,” he said. Complicating the matter is three candidates who supported expansion of the park won in the April municipal election, two of them decisively.
He doesn’t know what is going to break the impasse, but something must give, he said. Community Development Corp.’s creditors aren’t getting a return on their investment and they aren’t getting paid back.
“We’re six years into this,” he noted.
DeFrancia said he didn’t read the latest election results as a mandate for more development and no park on the 2.3 acres owned by the nonprofit.
His firm won’t submit an application that tries to squeeze as many condominiums onto the property as possible, he said. It’s clear the community wants public uses on a portion of the property, he said.
“We hope to make it work for everybody,” DeFrancia said.
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