City hot to add fire pit |

City hot to add fire pit

Sketches of proposed downtown improvements garnered the Aspen City Council's attention Monday. A fire hearth and visitor-services pavilion were among the elements that got the nod. Courtesy Dunnett Design.

A permanent fire hearth at Cooper Avenue and Galena Street rose to the top of the list of downtown improvements the City Council would like to see done this summer.The council worked its way through a list of close to $800,000 worth of downtown enhancements proposed by a hired team dubbed the “dwell architects.” They were charged with coming up with features to entice people to linger, or dwell, in Aspen’s commercial core.Two fire pits were proposed, but the council decided to try just one to start, at an estimated cost of $25,000 to build plus $5,500 to operate annually. A second hearth was proposed for the middle of the Hyman Avenue mall.Some proposals, including a map/business directory and other improvements in directional signs, as well as vendor kiosks in the malls, were passed over.”Personally … I do not like those map directories listing all the businesses,” said Mayor Helen Klanderud. “I’m concerned about taking on too manicured a look and also creating clutter.”The council has about $200,000 to work with this summer, so it cut back on some items, eliminated others from consideration this year and told designers to sharply cut the price of other items. More detailed cost estimates will come back to the council in the coming weeks.A simple toddler park on the Hyman Avenue mall, at an estimated cost of $40,000, got the nod.”I think that would be an incredible addition to that mall,” said Councilman Tim Semrau.The council also endorsed a year-round guest-services pavilion at Cooper and Galena near Gracy’s, replacing the small, temporary kiosk that the Aspen Chamber Resort Association currently staffs each summer in that area. The ACRA would staff the new one as well, but its $100,000 price tag is over the top, the council agreed.The council also favored $3,000 in matching funds for building owners who would like to explore improved lighting of their building facades, as well as the purchase of 30 more sets of tables and chairs, at a cost of $22,500, that can be placed around town.Proposed new bike racks are a maybe. Some council members weren’t sure the new design is an improvement on the existing one, but they agreed to try a prototype or two.”Right now we have bike racks that are almost completely nonfunctional,” said Art Burrows of Ajax Design and Communication, a member of the dwell team, along with Kevin Dunnett of Dunnett Design and Willis Pember Architects.Added landscaping and creating a wider, meandering stream at the ends of the malls also won favor, but the council stopped short on spending $50,000 or more on curved benches to complement the planned new bends in the stream.People who are anxious to memorialize a loved one through the purchase of a bench would probably pay for them, advised Jeff Woods, parks director.”We have 50 people on a waiting list right now,” he said.The council was also amenable to buying more flower planters this year.Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is

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