Aspen council looks to get ‘er done in ’08 |

Aspen council looks to get ‘er done in ’08

ASPEN ” Aspen’s elected leaders have big plans for 2008.

This year’s goals for City Council members include reviving the paid parking expansion in residential areas, controlling growth, setting off a slew of environmental initiatives and making plans to build affordable housing on recently purchased land.

Mayor Mick Ireland said he hopes the upcoming year will bring solutions to traffic congestion, which will involve opening exclusive bus lanes between Buttermilk and the roundabout, as well as expanding paid parking. But with that expansion will come incentives for people not to drive.

“We don’t reward for good behavior,” Ireland said. “We treat people the same if they drive one day a week or drive every day. Parking meters don’t discriminate.”

Ireland also hopes to launch an initiative that kick-starts plans for non-source heat pumps throughout the city.

“Beyond my term limits, I hope we can have a town running close to 100 percent on renewable energy,” he said. “It will be a major, major shift in how we do business.”

Voters likely will have an option in November to authorize the city to borrow money to build affordable housing, specifically the second phase of Burlingame.

Ireland said a priority for 2008 also should be controlling growth, including city government.

“People are generally satisfied with their level of service but we want to provide that more efficiently,” he said.

City Councilman Jack Johnson said the lack of affordable, or “citizen” housing, is a serious problem in Aspen and as more development occurs, the issue will only get worse.

“The long-term viability of Aspen is still in jeopardy,” he said. “The choices for Aspen are stark … do you completely sell out or do you save our viability? It’s very clear we must save our viability.”

Other than carrying on the visions set two years ago when he took office, Johnson has no other solid priorities other than joking that he’ll probably come up with something “politically unpopular.”

City Councilman Dwayne Romero wants to focus on building a stronger relationship between the community and government.

“No more division and combative attitudes,” he said, adding he is looking forward to working with a citizen task force to establish a direction on the city’s historic preservation program.

City Councilman Steve Skadron said updating the Aspen Area Community Plan, which directs the future development of the city, and working with citizens on the budget are his goals for the year.

City Councilman J.E. DeVilbiss is looking forward to serving the citizens of Aspen for another year and hopes the City Council seriously considers requiring developers to provide more affordable housing mitigation in their projects.

“Whether you can command 100 percent, I don’t know, that may be a utopian vision,” he said. “I’m looking forward to next year. When I get up in the morning, I’m jazzed. For an old fart, my life is good.”

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