Computer rendering by Bldg Seed Architects of the approved apartment building with rooftop solar to be built on Emma Road.

At its regular meeting, virtually held, January 25, the Basalt Town Council approved the hiring of Golden-based McKinstry Essention LLC to evaluate, plan, select the site and design the Town’s first solar and battery storage project.

Members swiftly powered through the passage of three ordinances after second readings and four resolutions, comprising what Mayor Bill Kane called, “a heck of a lot of important stuff.” Another bit of the important stuff was the purchase of land for the police station.

Scheduled presentations were few and brief, and the meeting was adjourned ahead of schedule. Councilor Gary Tennenbaum was absent and judging from the backdrop she chose, Councilor Elyse Hottel, attended from outer space. No one from the public spoke or attended via Zoom.

McKinstry will be paid $99,000 for its services, which will help Basalt meet Eagle County’s 2017 Climate Action Plan target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 80% by 2050. Funding for the entire green project was part of the Basalt Forward 2030 bond issue voters approved last year. The photovoltaic array and batteries are projected to produce and store up to one-half megawatt of electricity, according to Ashley Brasovan, McKinstry account executive.

Basalt Town Engineer Catherine Christoff said the project will serve as a backup in case of a major power failure and provide “resiliency” if there is a need to “shelter in place,” at Basalt High School or other designated facilities.

Town Manager Ryan Mahoney announced that the site for the new police station is under contract for $1.7 million, with Loose Cannon LLC. The location on three-fourths of an acre at 20526 Highway 82 will provide “visibility and good access to Willits,” Mahoney said. He predicted Willits will receive most of the police calls since it is the fastest growing portion of the Town. “We are looking for a 50-year investment in this purchase,” he said.

Basalt police currently occupy 2400 square feet of a building on Elk Run Drive. Their new headquarters will be 4500 square feet, Mahoney said. Adjacent to the site is land Basalt purchased for $1.6 million last year for the public works facility. Mahoney asked Councilors to authorize Town staff to enter into a contract with Gould Construction for the next phase of this project.

The town council’s approval of a resolution to immediately hire Ayers Associates Inc. for grant writing services enabled it to meet the deadline for a $1 million grant from Colorado Department of Transportation’s (CDOT) Revitalizing Main Street Program. The state grant would cover part of the $2.5 million shortfall in the total funding for Basalt Forward 30’s Midland Avenue landscape project, said Christy Chicoine, finance director. Another $465,000 will be made up of unexpected building permit fees that Basalt received last year. The other portion will be contributed by the town to show “buy-in,” said Chicoine.

On its second reading, the Council adopted an ordinance approving Fork Front LLC’s site-specific plan designed by Bldg Seed Architects, for a 12-unit apartment building equipped with roof solar panels, on the east end of Emma Road.  Three two-bedroom apartments will be deed-restricted to increase the amount of affordable housing.

Fork Front agreed to build an extension of the Ponderosa Trail along the Roaring Fork River within seven months of completion, or pay $70,000 to the Town if the work is not finished, said Assistant Planning Director James Lindt.

The Town Council meeting opened with a fond farewell to Planning Director Susan Philp, who is retiring after 24 years. Philp sat alone in the usual council meeting room to monitor Zoom traffic for the last Council meeting she needed to attend. She  was teary-eyed from the show of staff and Council appreciation. “She did everything, and then some,” said Mayor Kane.

Kane also acknowledged Basalt skiers Haley Swirbul and Hanna Faulhaber for earning places on the U.S. Ski Team, to compete at the Beijing Olympics.