City looking to spend $6M
ASPEN City officials Monday are expected to approve nearly $6 million in expenditures on everything from buying new property to building a trail in Castle Creek to constructing a water line on Red Mountain.The largest expenditure is the purchase of 517 Park Circle for $4.1 million. The Aspen City Council discussed the property acquisition behind closed doors last month. The land would be used for potential affordable housing, recreational opportunities and other public uses, according to city staff.The plan to construct a pedestrian trail from the Marolt housing to the Music School and Country Day School campuses has been in the works for four years. In November 2005, staff asked the City Council to contribute $350,000 toward what was then a $700,000 project. Since then, increased building costs have made the project more than double in price. The price tag is now $2.2 million and the City Council is being asked to fork over $1.1 million – $802,686 more than originally requested.In its report to the council, city staff said the costs are reasonable given the technical difficulties of construction.Commuters get bus lanesDesign costs alone will total $500,000 for the voter-approved bus lanes that will run from Buttermilk to the Maroon Creek roundabout. The council is being asked tonight to approve using $500,000 from a county-wide, half-cent transit sales and use tax controlled by elected officials in Aspen, Pitkin County and Snowmass Village. No city money will be used for the project, according to staff.The contract for design of the bus lanes is expected to be awarded to Parsons Transportation Group Inc. The firm will design two general traffic lanes and two exclusive bus lanes on the 1.2-mile long stretch. The lanes would be open in late 2008 or early 2009, according to city staff. The entire project is expected to cost $7.4 million, which will come from the half-cent transportation tax.If the council decides not to approve the contract, the project will be delayed and could result in the delay of the opening of the new Maroon Creek bridge and the loss of $500,000 in bridge construction savings, city staff said.Money flowsPitkin County may own Red Mountain Road, but the city owns the water line underneath it. And since the county plans to reconstruct the road this year, city officials believe replacing portions of the water line at the same time is a wise move as far as cost savings.The county will do the work and the city will reimburse it for $314,716.
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