Calls for the town of Basalt to reconsider the purchase of a 1.1-acre, $1.8 million midvalley parcel from Shelton Properties LLC for public works and maintenance purposes, are continuing by an elected official who is asking his colleagues to join him in contemplating an alternative site.
After an extended discussion during Tuesday’s council meeting about the property the town has under contract near Willits Band at 20522 Highway 82, it was determined that no decision on the sale would be made until the Oct. 27 council meeting and possibly later.
On Thursday, Basalt Town Council member Bill Infante, who was the sole vote Sept. 22 against the Shelton property purchase, asked Town Manager Ryan Mahoney and Mayor Bill Kane to join him in taking a site visit to a different property in Holland Hills that was recommended by Mike Eaton, a real estate broker.
Basalt recently entered into a purchase contract for the triangular-shaped Shelton property located about halfway between downtown and Willits near Aspen Skiing Co.’s tiny homes project and Umbrella Roofing. But critics have decried the town for not using a commercial real estate broker as its representative, chief negotiator and advocate. Some in the public also questioned the timing of the sale while the pandemic continues to inflict suffering on the local populace.
Basalt initially walked away from the public works land purchase last spring, during the early weeks that COVID-19 raged in the valley, but updated, positive tax collections that are 14% above last year, and more optimism about the town’s 2020 budget were behind the decision to pursue the property once again, Kane said last week.
Beyond the purchase price, another $550,000 in town funds will be required to construct a storage facility on the maintenance facility site, bringing the project’s total cost of the Shelton parcel to about $2.35 million.
A cash purchase of the property was recommended using $1.45 million in 2020 fund balance plus $350,000 from the Sopris Meadows real estate transfer fund. An additional $550,000 from the town’s 2021 fund balance would be needed to complete the purchase and for the facility upgrade.
The Holland Hills property at 100 Hoaglund Ranch Road, which Eaton has the listing on, encompasses about 8 acres and is for sale at roughly the same amount, about $1.8 million, as the Shelton property. Eaton spoke of the Hoaglund parcel, located south of the Roaring Fork Club, during last week’s council meeting.
Infante inferred this parcel was superior to the Shelton property, noting there’s an easement through the Willits-area Shelton land that heretofore had not been publicly disclosed and which reduces the usable portion to less than 1 acre.
Infante asked the town to provide more information about the parcel it’s contracted to buy, including any potential encumbrances.
“In the summer of 2020 Black Hills Energy contemplated purchase of the Shelton property, but reportedly backed out when it learned of potentially multiple easements on the eastern and northern boundaries of the parcel, and the encumbrance associated with the Widget Street extension under the Access Control Plan. Staff did not indicate knowledge of any easement in the presentation to Council Tuesday night. Please revisit the existence of easements because this materially influences Council’s decision,” Infante wrote in an email to Kane and Mahoney.
Stacey Craft, another Basalt-based real estate professional, has also noted the easement encumbrance and potential loss of value as part of an overall criticism of what she believes is the town’s failure to follow standard processes of procurement by municipalities.
Infante said he was going to make a site visit to the Hoaglund Ranch property at the behest of Eaton and in the Oct. 15 email to Kane and Infante wrote, “I am extending this invitation to both of you, and to council.”
He went on to note that after coverage of the issue last week by both newspapers the public’s interest in the sale has grown and evidenced by calls, messages and emails.
During Tuesday’s council meeting, however, some council members said the Hoaglund parcel was unsuitable for the scope of the public works consolidation needed by the town of Basalt, with Ryan Slack stating it could potentially create a dangerous intersection of the road and Highway 82. Councilman Glenn Drummond in that meeting supported the town staying the course on the current property sale.