Aspen Mass eyed for parking

Steve BensonAspen Times Staff Writer

Members of the Elected Transportation Officials Committee shifted their attention Thursday to Aspen Mass as a solution to what they consider a parking shortage for special events in the Roaring Fork Valley, The transportation committee, made up of elected officials from the upper valley, originally considered the Brush Creek Park and Ride as the most sensible area for expanded parking. But they decided to explore the neighboring Aspen Mass property as an alternative because it may be cheaper and available sooner. The decision comes after TurnerCollie & Braden, a Glenwood Springs-based consulting firm, spent several months studying the Brush Creek Park and Ride at the request of the transportation committee.In addition to a full study of the existing parking area – the intersection of Highway 82 and Brush Creek Road – TurnerCollie & Braden provided several possible options for expanding the parking lot. The total cost of the various projects ranged from $400,000 to $24 million, for anywhere between 200 and 1,700 new parking spaces. The Brush Creek park-and-ride lot currently has about 200 parking spaces.The committee quickly ruled out the more expensive options, agreeing that expanding the lot by about 800 spaces to a total of 1,000 was the most sensible. Under this option, the estimated total cost is $3.6 million. However, the committee decided it would use gravel rather than pavement, which would reduce the price. Still other members, like Aspen Mayor Helen Klanderud, felt that Aspen Mass, which was not included in the study and therefore not originally presented as an option, was the simplest, cheapest, and most sight-friendly area for event parking. Aspen Mass was once considered a prime potential location for affordable housing, but was eventually rejected as a site because of its distance from town and concerns raised by the Brush Creek and Woody Creek neighborhoods.Also located near the intersection of Highway 82 and Brush Creek Road, Aspen Mass is considered less of an eyesore than Brush Creek Park and Ride, since it sits below the shoulder of Highway 82.Aspen Mayor Helen Klanderud, put things in perspective. “The only time we need this is when we have special events. That’s three to five times a year,” Klanderud said. “[Let’s] analyze Aspen Mass and compare the two.” This sudden shift of attention from Brush Creek to Aspen Mass left John Krueger, the transportation director for the city of Aspen, unclear on why the committee did not request Aspen Mass be included in the original study, and what they wanted in the future. “The scope of this was the focus on Brush Creek, that’s what you all wanted,” Krueger said, “[But] I’m not clear what you want to see at the Brush Creek lot, [and] what you want in the final report?” “[We want to] have an understanding of the capacity and cost of using Aspen Mass,” said Snowmass Village Mayor T. Michael Manchester. The committee estimated that Aspen Mass could provide as many as 1,000 parking spaces, costing only $500,000 to develop. TurnerCollie & Braden will spend the next few months analyzing Aspen Mass, and release its next report to the committee Sept. 11. [Steve Benson’s e-mail address is]