Citizens: Get the easement back | AspenTimes.com

Citizens: Get the easement back

Janet Urquhart
Aspen Times Staff Writer

The Citizens for a Small Town Entrance wants Aspen to try to get back the highway corridor it deeded to the state earlier this year.

“It’s now time to work with you all to get the land back for the city of Aspen, and we need your help to do it,” former Mayor Bill Stirling told the Aspen City Council on Monday.

Stirling, a backer of the Citizens, said the group is also interested in exploring mass-transit options with the city, as well as potential upgrades to improve the existing alignment of Highway 82 at the western entrance to town.

The results of the Nov. 5 election indicate voters in the city and Pitkin County want to work with the existing, S-curves alignment, Stirling noted.

“In light of this last vote, you’ve got to take into consideration the majority of the citizens have determined to keep the existing alignment for the time being,” he said.

There may be “solutions for the existing alignment that might improve it substantially,” Stirling said.

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Voters were asked this month whether they prefer the existing alignment or a new one, the so-called straight shot, over open space at the entrance to town. With the defeat of the straight shot, Aspen should be trying to get back the easement across the open space that has been turned over to the Colorado Department of Transportation, Stirling argued.

The city needs to come up with a strategy to “get that land back,” he said, asking council members if such an effort is on the table for consideration.

“Yes, absolutely,” said Mayor Helen Klanderud.

The Entrance to Aspen will be but one topic for discussion when the council meets next week for what is scheduled to be an eight-hour “strategic planning” session, noted Councilman Tim Semrau.

A number of issues will be up for discussion, Klanderud said. “Certainly, transportation is a major one,” she added.

The Citizens for a Small Town Entrance, which campaigned in favor of the S-curves, had put forward petitions with the hope that the city would seek new voter authorization to transfer the easement to CDOT before going ahead with the land deal.

Three members of the council, however, voted to complete the transfer, but then agreed to poll voters on which alignment they prefer.

Since the current alignment has prevailed, Councilman Tony Hershey said he’s interested in working with the Citizens on what can be done with the existing entrance.

Or, maybe, local residents will ultimately decide to do nothing with the entrance, he said.

[Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is janet@aspentimes.com]

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