ACRA also faces taking a stance on the entrance | AspenTimes.com

ACRA also faces taking a stance on the entrance

Brent Gardner-Smith
Aspen Times Staff Writer

A board member of the Aspen Chamber Resort Association plans to ask the ACRA board to take a stand on the Entrance to Aspen question at its next meeting on Tuesday.

Stan Clauson, a former director of planning with the city of Aspen and the principal at Stan Clauson Associates LLC, plans to bring up the issue with the ACRA board on Tuesday.

Clauson chaired the ACRA’s Economic Sustainability Committee, which recently issued a report that recommended, among a number of other actions, that the Entrance to Aspen be completed as it is described in the 1998 Record of Decision.

“We encourage moving forward on the Entrance to Aspen as approved in the Colorado Department of Transportation Record of Decision,” states the committee’s report. “Much public participation and research was undertaken resulting in the decision to provide a new entrance to the community. The plan as approved provides a very high level of open space amenity, supports current and future forms of public transportation, and will help eliminate congestion that negatively affects all members of the community.”

The ACRA board voted to endorse the Sustainability Committee’s report, including the provision in support of the modified direct alignment across the Thomas and Marolt properties between the roundabout and 7th and Main streets in Aspen.

But ACRA board chair Molly Campbell said the endorsement of the economic sustainability report cannot be construed as a de facto endorsement by the board of the current Entrance to Aspen plan.

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“Not everyone agreed totally on everything,” she said. “For example, Helen [Klanderud] is on that group and struggled with that issue, but in the end supported the broad-based report.” Klanderud, the mayor of Aspen, is against the implementation of the Entrance to Aspen plan.

The endorsement of either the modified direct alignment or the current S-curve alignment is also on the agenda of the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority, which has called a special meeting for today to debate the issue. (See related story on page A1.)

Another significant stakeholder in the issue, the Aspen Skiing Co., said in response to a reporter’s query that it still supports the current Entrance to Aspen plan as approved by CDOT and city of Aspen voters in 1996, which included a light rail system from downtown Aspen to the Buttermilk Mountain Ski Area and the Aspen airport.

“We endorsed the modified direct alignment in the previous election,” said David Perry, the Skico’s senior vice president of sales and marketing. “We supported it then and our position hasn’t changed.”

The Skico spends about $1.5 million a year with RFTA to operate the free skier shuttle system which moves skiers and employees between downtown Aspen and the Aspen Highlands, Buttermilk and Snowmass ski areas.

Perry said the Skico is concerned about its guests sitting in traffic jams while on the skier shuttle buses.

“The traffic congestion issue is an issue,” Perry said. “And that feedback comes from guests and local residents. Guests getting caught in the bottleneck have commented in the past. It is not what somebody on vacation expects. We tout this wonderfully efficient service between mountains, and it is important to deliver on that promise.”

[Brent Gardner-Smith’s e-mail address is bgs@aspentimes.com]