City invites input on growth | AspenTimes.com
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City invites input on growth

Abigail Eagye

Aspen will sponsor a series of public meetings later this month to solicit community input on growth and development. The city is planning 10 small focus groups for June 19-30, followed by a large community meeting in July.”Council wants to hear from the public in a setting less formal and constricted than a City Council meeting,” according to a news release announcing the meetings. “This is a chance for the public to express ideas, concerns, aggravations and questions. It is also a chance for them to hear from their fellow citizens.”City staff will “take notes or clarify questions but will not participate,” the release stated.The pace of development, the downtown commercial mix, the city’s lodging base, residential development and downtown streetscapes will be discussion topics.Mitzi Rapkin, director of community relations and communications for the city, said the meetings are, in part, a response to an influx of participants at several recent council meetings. “It’s hard to ascertain if that’s what the whole community thinks, or just those who came to the meeting,” Rapkin said. The city has solicited citizen input before, but Rapkin said the process for this series of meetings is new. In addition to inviting all interested members of the community to participate, the city will also send special invitations to a random selection of voters, as well as second-home owners, to encourage broader involvement.”The city has never gone out and tried to both invite and solicit people who might not volunteer,” she said. “It’s an effort to really reach out to the average person.”The city is hoping the special invitations will encourage participation by people who don’t normally get involved.”Those who volunteer are those who usually volunteer,” she said.Rapkin said second-home owners in particular are not always involved. “They’re the hardest people to find.” Rapkin said she didn’t want to underplay the importance of residents coming together in small groups.”Our fellow citizens will get to know the views of their fellow citizens more,” she said.Former Pitkin County Commissioner Leslie Lamont will facilitate the small group meetings, and Chris Gates, president of the National Civic League, will facilitate the large group meeting.The large community meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. July 19 at the Hotel Jerome. If necessary, another meeting in the afternoon will accommodate people who cannot attend the evening meeting.For more information or to volunteer for the focus groups, contact Mitzi Rapkin at 920-5082 or mitzir@ci.aspen.co.us.Abigail Eagye’s e-mail address is aeagye@aspentimes.com


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