Aspen election hopefuls speak: Part 5 of 6
The Aspen Times
The seven candidates for two open Aspen City Council seats are Adam Frisch, Mick Ireland, Bert Myrin, Marcia Goshorn, Andy Israel, Keith Goode and Tom McCabe. This is part five in a six-part series with the candidates. (Read parts one, two, three and four at http://www.aspentimes.com.)
Today’s question: What does parking and transportation look like in Aspen in 10 years?
We have tried to have our transportation cake and eat it too for a very long time. The Roaring Fork Transportation Authority became the transportation mainstay that it is by sustained effort championed by Aspen, yet we have to acknowledge that while the valley has come a long way, Aspen is still the biggest problem. It is such a touchy topic that any sane council person would want to offer options from time to time for the voters to decide. Parking challenges cost the citizens, visitors, pedestrians and businesses alike. Do we really want it to get worse? I don’t have a feel-good answer and I am not sure there is one, but we must be willing to continue to explore new options.
The future of parking and traffic should not be any worse in 10 years than it is now. Mass transit will continue to be important, but since we are a community and a resort, families will still need to drive to the grocery store, ice rinks and athletic fields. What City Council is doing now is voting on development applications and incrementally decreasing locally served parking without input from the community on a 10-year plan (e.g. a new hotel across from City Market without onsite parking).
I will insist on such planning and be your voice for Aspen, the community.
Parking and transportation is a major issue. I believe tourists enjoy Aspen because it’s a real town with history and longevity. A key element of that is the pedestrian aspect of Aspen. I’d like to see fewer cars and trucks in the core in 10 years. But that doesn’t seem to be likely given the way things are going. I think we should take a lesson from the ski towns in Europe that are connected by aerial trams. Maybe there is a solution that is unique to Aspen. I’d like to find it.
Ten years from now, we may no longer have parking meters as we know them today. Buses and cars will still be needed, but should be quieter and less polluting as electric vehicles evolve.
I envision and have written about a parking system that will allow automatic payment triggered by scanners. The future system will reward driving less and charge less for parking during off-peak hours.
A network of computer-dispatched smaller buses that will go directly to users and route through town based on current demand. Users will phone or text in their pickup and destination and a vehicle will arrive.
With some hard work and planning, we could find a way to minimize traffic, but not requiring parking for new projects is the worst possible way to accomplish that. One idea that I have heard over the years is to have a remote parking area or garage that would have 24-hour-a-day transportation to lodging properties and businesses. Many guests will continue to bring their cars, and finding a way to make them unnecessary in town has to be thought through.
If population continues to grow at its current rate, looking into light rail might finally be an option 10 years from now. Parking outside of town and transportation shuttled into town might be our best solution with parking.
We need to continue to de-emphasize the automobile in town while being realistic that while we can — and I believe will — do better, cars will remain a necessity at some level for locals as well as guests who visit. We must continue to support the exploding user base of the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority and WE-cycle, and I remain a big supporter of the no-fare bus service between Aspen and Snowmass. We also need to take a look at the existing parking space utilization in town. The desire and ability to add more parking in town is limited and probably counterproductive to community goals. Over the longer term, I’d like to see increased utilization and additional park-and-ride options at the intercept lot, Buttermilk parking lot and the airport.
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The manager of a downtown Aspen restaurant was bitten by a bear rummaging through garbage in the alley dumpster late Sunday night.