On March 14, Basalt Town Council held a well-attended meeting to discuss, among various things, the Midland Avenue Streetscape Project. The meeting opened with impassioned public comments concerning Midland specifically.

Complaints were reiterated by business owners along Midland — especially restaurants — that the construction would occur during their busiest seasons. Without the high summer traffic, many business owners fear that they will not be able to survive the year. Several requested that Council shift the construction time to the fall as to lessen the negative impact.

In response, Mayor Bill Kane announced that Town Council would host two work sessions on March 22 specifically for the Streetscape Project. Town Manager Ryan Mahoney elaborated that the sessions, held in both the morning and the evening, will inform local businesses about the hard details of the construction project and obtain feedback from concerned parties.

However, Council made no indication that a shift in timeline for the construction would occur. Additionally, Mahoney addressed concerns about the Sunday Market, stating that it would still be held this summer. However, some business owners remained concerned that their needs would not be met, and the damage would be irreversible.

Public comments concluded with Kane calling order to the meeting. Moving into Council Reports, Mahoney announced that the Community Police Academy will be held soon. The Academy will offer classes on every other Saturday at Basalt High School from April 8 to September 2, and more information can be found on Basalt PD’s Facebook page. Mahoney also updated Council on Lightning Bolt project — construction on the Midland bridge — stating that lanes on the bridge were open and likely to remain open due to work now occurring off the main roadway.

Up next was a presentation by Town Planning Director Michelle Thibeault on the Stott’s Mill Daycare Building, a 4,000-square-foot space near Basalt High School which currently lacks potential operators. Previously, the developer of Stott’s Mill requested that the space be converted into four deed-restricted housing units, but Council directed staff to pursue developing the space as either a youth center or a daycare.

Staff published a Request for Proposals (RFP) that yielded at least half a dozen requests with final proposals from interested parties due April 10 at 4pm. Additionally, a committee will be assembled of daycare and youth care professionals in Pitkin County to review the proposals.

Next up, Senior Planner Sara Nadolny announced the introduction of a new E-Bike Rebate Program to kick off at some point in mid-April. The program, initiated because transportation is the second largest source of carbon emissions in Basalt, will provide $250 to 250 Basalt residents for the purchase of an e-bike in partnership with local bike retailers. Additionally, the Town will ask recipients of the rebate to take a commuter oath to replace three vehicle trips per week with an e-bike trip.

Moving forward, the first in a series of actions were interviews for positions in the Basalt Affordable Community Housing (BACH) Commission and the Basalt Public Arts Commission (BPAC). Affordable housing project manager Perry Kleespies and financial professional Dave Portman were unanimously appointed to BACH, and art instructor Colleen Irvin unanimously appointed to BPAC.

Next, Council approved a $3.5 million contract with Stutzman-Gerbaz Earthmoving for the construction of Phase I of the Midland Ave Streetscape Project, which includes deep utility work on the Midland spur as well as increasing that area’s parking spaces from 61 to 96. Additionally, Phase I is slated to begin demolition next week and be completed by June so the Sunday Market can still be held in this area. Funding will come from a total $12.8 million devoted to the entire Streetscape Project.

Continuing with the theme of construction, the next resolution was to approve a $213,000 contract with GMCO LLC for the Crack and Chip Seal Project, designed to repair cracked road surfaces across Basalt in June. The primary areas of repair include Elk Run, Sopris Drive and Ridge Road, along with some repair around Basalt High School.

Back to Midland, the next two items were authorization of materials testing and special inspection by Ground Engineering Consultants, Inc. for the whole project, costing up to roughly $128,000. Another contract was signed for $589,500 with Connect One Design to oversee construction for the project. Both were unanimously approved with the exception of Council member Elyse Hottel, who recused herself from all Midland-related actions.

The evening closed with two second readings of ordinances to update marijuana and liquor licensing. The first ordinance would change marijuana licensing to operate under the same timeline and review as liquor licenses, and the second would create a new type of local festival permit extending from wine to liquor and beer, which requires holding a liquor license already. Both were unanimously approved.