Aspen to seek public input on ‘Galena Connection’ idea
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO, Colorado
ASPEN – After the Aspen City Council and city staff had spent nearly an hour talking about the minutiae of the proposed “Galena Community Connection” on Tuesday, Councilman Steve Skadron came up with a big-picture idea.
A reconfigured Galena Street, he said, should be a place “where you would want to kiss your girlfriend.”
And immediately following that comment, the chatter about eliminating parking spaces on Galena Street and Cooper Avenue west of the downtown pedestrian malls came to a close. So did the discourse about “The Jail Trail,” a way that cyclists cross over from the Main Street area near the Pitkin County Courthouse to get down to Rio Grande Place and the nearby park.
At the end of Tuesday’s work session, a majority of council members directed city engineer Tricia Aragon to look for an outside consultant who will seek input from the community about what they want from the Galena Street corridor between Main Street and the pedestrian-mall areas.
A planning group that the council listened to last fall during a meeting in Glenwood Springs called Projects for Public Spaces may be the ideal candidate to study the Galena Street issue, some council members concluded.
“They spoke at the State of the Roaring Fork meeting, and we’re going to try to bring them in to see if they can facilitate this public-outreach process and what the public envisions for Galena,” Aragon said after Tuesday’s work session.
She said an open house, in which local residents and even visitors can express their ideas for the project, might kick-start the process.
“Instead of saying, ‘We’re going to one-way this street; we’re going to have parallel parking instead of head-in parking,’ think of this approach as, ‘What kinds of things do we want to do here?'” Aragon said.
Earlier in the meeting, comments centered on making the block of Galena Street between Main Street and Hopkins Avenue, which is currently a two-way stretch for motorists, a one-way thoroughfare flowing south. There was also a discussion on making Hyman Avenue a one-way road flowing east between Galena and Hunter streets.
“So now we’re going to get away from this ‘one-way’ stuff and focus on what (the community) wants,” Aragon said.
Mayor Mick Ireland said the community’s vision for making the route more pedestrian-friendly and more social would be helpful.
“Right now, I don’t think it’s very attractive, the way it is now, and it’s not very inviting,” he said. “We’re in competition with a lot of resorts where the downtown is very inviting. So we’ll see what the public has to share about making it more sociable and attractive to them.”
Former Mayor Helen Klanderud shared a few thoughts during the meeting. She said that steps to improve the Galena corridor would be a worthy goal, but she cautioned the council not to ignore past studies that have already delved into the issue. Ireland agreed, saying there were bits and pieces of the city’s old Frick and Beer retail report that could be included in future concepts.
The Galena Community Connection has been described in city memorandums as a way of linking downtown retail areas with the Galena Plaza next to the Pitkin County Library and also Rio Grande Park just north of the plaza. The city is planning to repair the roof of the Rio Grande Parking Garage underneath the plaza and also wants to renovate the plaza as a more attractive event location so that the community will spend more time there.
City officials hope that a revamped Galena Street corridor will be a successful link between the park and plaza areas and downtown shopping areas. Currently, there isn’t a lot of flow between the park area near the Roaring Fork River and commercial-core retail clusters.
City planners have estimated the price tag for all of the projects, including Galena Plaza, the parking-garage repairs and the Galena Connection, at more than $4 million. The project would include narrower streets, wider pathways, more green spaces, improved bike trails and natural filtration systems to better handle stormwater from Aspen Mountain to the Roaring Fork River.
At an October meeting, council members and Ireland discussed the possibility of revamping the intersection at Galena and Main streets to make it safer and friendlier for pedestrians and cyclists flowing between the commercial core and Rio Grande Park. The idea of intersection changes, to produce a “traffic-calming effect” on Main Street, sparked little discussion Tuesday.
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The Roaring Fork Transportation Authority learned on Tuesday that it received an $11.5 million grant from the Federal Transit Administration. That will help pay for the expansion and renovation of a bus maintenance facility in Glenwood Springs.