Aspen fire pit’s days are numbered
ASPEN ” City officials are finding ways to cool down the controversy surrounding the energy hog known as the fire pit.
The fire hearth, installed two years ago on the Cooper Avenue Mall as a place for locals and visitors to gather, is considered hypcritical by some, given Aspen’s environmental efforts. So, last month the City Council tried to snuff out the fossil-fuel burning amenity. But the majority of the council voted to keep it burning until a more environmentally acceptable alternative was found.
Three options were presented to the council on Tuesday that could replace the hearth, which emits 9 1/2 pounds of carbon a year into the atmosphere, or 40 percent of what an average Aspen home puts out a year.
The hearth will most likely be replaced with an interactive display and feature that could include a human-generated power element that generates heat. It would be designed in the same vain as the popular water fountain that is used by thousands of people during the summer.
LED lights that display a flame or generate a light show could be part of the feature. And it could run on electricity provided by Aspen yet-to-be built hydropower plant.
Whatever replaces the hearth will have an educational component to it, explaining why the city has turned off the natural gas and points out the wasteful energy consumption throughout town, as well as suggested ways to be more environmentally conscious.
The city will hold a design competition and ask firms to come up with their own creative alternatives using the options presented to the council. A cash prize will be given to the winner.
But until then, the pit will continue to burn natural gas. Currently, it runs seven hours a day. In the upcoming weeks, hours of operation will be reduced to four a day.
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U.S. Forest Service ready to make happy campers with the opening of facilities in the Aspen-Sopris Ranger District.