A changing of the guard on Aspen City Council
Outgoing council member Ann Mullins offers parting thoughts as newcomer John Doyle and incumbent Ward Hauenstein are sworn in
A changing of the guard occurred Tuesday in the chambers of Aspen City Council as its newest member John Doyle was sworn into office and his predecessor, Ann Mullins, stepped down after serving for eight years.
Incumbent Ward Hauenstein also was sworn in to serve a second four-year term. He and Doyle were the highest vote-getters in the March election, beating out six other candidates.
Doyle and Hauenstein offered some comments after being sworn in, both in agreement in that they are honored and humbled to be elected as public servants.
“I’m looking forward to working with you all over the next four years and I am really excited to be working with staff,” Doyle said.
Hauenstein echoed Doyle’s sentiments.
“Without the competent staff we would be a captain with no sails, no keel and no rudder and we’d be telling the wind what to do,” he said. “I’ve got four words that everything is going to kind of filter through for the next four years: patience, courage, wisdom and balance.”
Mullins’ last action as a council member was anti-climatic when considering nearly a decade of policy making. She voted to approve the consent agenda that included a new boiler at the Yellow Brick school building, drainage and grading improvements on the city’s parks and a contract to improve the parking garage fire protection system.
Before council adjourned and began a new meeting with new members seated, Mullins fought back tears while making comments on her public service.
“I want to make the point that it’s not just one person on council, it’s council, it’s staff, it’s community, it’s really a team effort,” she said. “Thank you to the community that elected me, it’s the biggest honor of my life. … It’s such a privilege to work with city staff and be so inspired and so dedicated, we couldn’t haven’t done the job if we didn’t have you guys behind us taking care of stuff.”
Doyle and the rest of his tenured colleagues will rely on staff for issues brought before them on first readings of ordinances that will come before council in the form of public hearings in the coming weeks.
One of them is the expansion of the visitor center at the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies, which is proposed at 815 square feet and will necessitate removing trees.
Additionally, ACES is asking that the Birds of Prey building, which houses administrative offices, be reconfigured to provide more work space.
ACES also is proposing a vehicle turnaround at the entrance to the campus to make a safer space for buses and other vehicles, and improve emergency access.
The new council also reviewed a subdivision request to split a 36,000-square foot lot at 925 King St. on first reading.
Doyle got his first experience in Robert’s Rules of Order when council was considering a complicated request by the owners of 720 E. Hyman Ave., which houses Jean Robert’s Gym, to extend their vested rights to redevelop the building.
Doyle, like the majority of council, was not in favor for extending the rights and as a result, the applicant withdrew the request.
The new council adjourned at 8 p.m., and went into executive session to discuss not only the city’s lawsuit with the Centennial homeowners association but also the lease, transfer or acquisition of property.
Prior to council’s regular meeting on Tuesday, Doyle as a newcomer has been orienting himself with the process, city staff members and issues facing the community.
He said he has been busy reading the city’s key documents, such as the budget, home rule charter, the Aspen Area Community Plan, the land-use code, design standards and guidelines and the civic master plan.
And in preparation for Tuesday’s agenda, Doyle spent the morning reading the 290-page packet, which is fairly short in comparison to others.
Doyle said he has been tuning into some council meetings prior to be sworn in, and said he was pleased with what elected officials have been doing since he was elected.
He said he expects he will be absorbing a lot of information in the coming weeks and months.
“I’m eager to be a student and I will try to keep my head down and avoid any gaffes,” Doyle said. “Hopefully I will be a quick study.”
Council members on Tuesday thanked Mullins for her service and welcomed Doyle to the board, with some offering advice.
“I have nothing profound that I can say at this time. I think maybe the only thing I’d say is it’s probably not what you are expecting,” Mayor Torre said. “What I’ve found over a couple of different terms is it’s never what I would have expected, good and bad.”
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The city of Aspen will be taking control over four traffic signals on Main Street so that pedestrians are the priority.