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Another rail vote in works for May

John Colson

Only two months after Aspen’s last election battle concerning a proposed rail system, an Aspen woman is making plans to bring the fight back into the voting booth this May.

Barbara Stanford, a Pomegranate Condominiums resident and a member of a citizens’ committee on light-rail design, confirmed on Monday that she is taking steps to form an election committee.

“It’s only a yellow light right now,” she said yesterday when contacted by a reporter, indicating reluctance to talk about her plans. “Why don’t you wait until it’s a green light?”

Stanford contacted the Aspen City Clerk’s office on Monday to ask about the procedures for taking out petitions and getting a question on the municipal ballot in May.

Asked what the ballot question would be about, she said, “It’s an initiative to allow the people the opportunity to vote `yes’ or `no’ on the funding [for a light-rail system from the Pitkin County Airport into the heart of Aspen] and on whether they want a train at all.”

She said she is not sure how the question will be worded, because that will be the work of the committee.

Local voters produced a mixed bag of results last November when asked how they feel about the idea of bringing rail travel back to the Roaring Fork Valley. Aspen voters narrowly approved the idea, while Pitkin County voters narrowly rejected it.

But on an initiative question demanding that voters get a chance to decide on whether they want to pay for a train, the result was clear. By a margin of more than 12 percent, county voters approved Question 100, indicating they want a funding vote by November 1999. At the time, local officials said they are planning to follow the voters’ wishes.

Stanford’s ballot question, though, would be aimed strictly at Aspen voters and at the proposed light-rail system between the airport and the Rubey Park Transit Center, which is included as part of the much-debated “Entrance To Aspen” plan. That plan calls for a light-rail system along the Highway 82 right of way and across the planned new bridge linking the highway to Main Street.

Stanford in 1997 argued that the light-rail system should be brought along the base of Shadow Mountain, instead of coming down Main Street and then turning south to Rubey Park.

Also, in a letter to the editor in 1998, she admonished readers and voters to “Vote no on everything train-related! Vote yes on ballot question 100,” a reference to the ballot question that was approved by the voters.

According to the city clerk’s office, Stanford must collect at least 762 valid signatures, and can begin gathering signatures any time in order to submit them by the March 1 deadline.


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