Care about the future of Aspen? |

Care about the future of Aspen?

ASPEN ” A draft of the collective community’s vision for Aspen is completed and is working its way toward formal adoption by elected officials.

The Aspen Area Community Plan, now being called the “Community Vision for the Aspen Area,” will be the topic of conversation at a meeting Friday; residents are invited to come and learn more about the principal document that will shape the future of town.

The AACP is a long-range comprehensive plan and is used by elected officials as a backstop when considering development projects.

The finished product is intended to guide the Aspen City Council and Pitkin County commissioners for the next decade. The document will be relied upon for decisions on issues ranging from housing to managing growth to transportation.

The city government and Pitkin County have released the draft version of the Community Vision for the Aspen Area. The conclusions in the report are drawn from work done over the course of several months, when hundreds of Aspen residents participated in surveys asking them what they see as the community’s major issues that need to be addressed.

Aspen’s small-town character remains a big concern, according to the survey results. A large number of people feel that Aspen’s character is either disappearing or missing.

A majority of residents feel the most important issues facing Aspen are the same ones that have been plaguing the community for decades ” traffic congestion, the lack of affordable housing and managing growth.

Last month, about 425 people responded to a series of questions with special electronic keypads hooked up to a computer in a series of gatherings called “clickerfests.”

Areas of focus in those meetings included economics, housing, growth management, transportation, the Airport Business Center, the environment and a host of other issues facing Aspen.

Another effort was a random survey that was mailed to some 3,200 residents, culled from either Pitkin County voter registration lists or the county assessor’s records. About 535 surveys were returned, for a response rate of more than 18 percent.

The first AACP was adopted in 1993. Seven years later, the 2000 AACP was adopted. In 2007, the council and commissioners approved funding for an update of the 2000 AACP and began work on it last year.

Now it’s time for the public to weigh in again. Community members are invited to attend a brown bag session from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in council chambers in the basement of City Hall to get the public’s feedback and answer questions on the draft. An input session also took place Thursday.

The process of establishing a Community Vision for the Aspen Area is rooted in the idea of direct democracy ” that the broadest cross section of the community should generate a vision for the future rather than professional staff and experts.

The City Council and county commissioners, and both city and county planning and zoning commissions, will review and consider the Community Vision for adoption in March and April.

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