City of Aspen looks to engage residents | AspenTimes.com

City of Aspen looks to engage residents

Aspen Times staff report
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN – Got a gripe with City Hall or have an issue in your neighborhood? In the coming weeks, Aspen residents will have a chance to air any grievances or learn more about their government during three neighborhood meetings.

City of Aspen staff, council members and residents are invited to talk about issues of concern at two meetings this month and a larger, town hall meeting in November.

Following brief presentations on the 2010 city budget, as well as bears in Aspen, and the City Council’s top 10 goals for the year, the floor will be opened to the public.

The first of the gatherings was held last Wednesday and focused on the central and east neighborhoods, said Sally Spaulding, the city’s community relations officer. Four people attended the meeting and requested that city officials conduct stronger enforcement of vehicles not yielding to pedestrians on Main Street.

They also suggested that the city take a stronger stance on individuals who violate the bear-proof trash can ordinance by imposing immediate and more expensive fines.

The next meeting, to be held Wednesday, will focus on those who live in the West End neighborhood. It will be held in the Aspen Physics Institute auditorium.

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The third meeting will be held Oct. 28 and is for people who live in the far west neighborhoods of the city. The meeting will be held in the Aspen Golf Course clubhouse.

The final meeting is a town hall meeting and geared toward anyone who lives in Aspen. It will be held Nov. 4 in council chambers at City Hall. The meeting will be broadcast on GrassRoots TV and also will be webcast live at http://www.aspenpitkin.com. People can e-mail their questions and comments in advance or during the meeting to sally.spaulding@ci.aspen.co.us. Spaulding said she will ask the questions on residents’ behalf during the meeting.

All meetings run from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.

The city used to regularly hold neighborhood meetings but it dissipated after 2005, the last time they were held.

Getting the word out about the meetings is key to residents’ participation, and last week, that effort was taken up a notch when the city of Aspen made its social networking debut on Facebook and Twitter.

Information about the neighborhood meetings is on the city’s Facebook page, as well as other upcoming events like this Saturday’s climate action day.

On Oct. 24, from 3 to 5 p.m., people in Aspen will gather to spell the words “SAVE SNOW” with their bodies on Aspen Mountain in what is being dubbed as the largest global day of climate action ever held.

The event – one of nearly 2,500 rallies in more than 150 nations – is coordinated by 350.org to urge world leaders to take fast and effective action on global warming. It’s the first global campaign ever organized around a scientific data point: 350 parts per million CO2 is the safe upper limit for the atmosphere, according to the latest scientific data.

Everyone is encouraged to wear winter gear (snowboards, skis, jackets, hats, etc.) for the photo. The end result – a photograph of hundreds of winter enthusiasts standing on a snowless ski mountain – will be sent to local, regional, national and international elected officials before the climate meetings this December in Copenhagen.

Simultaneously, people around the world will be taking similar action, from climbers with 350 banners high on the melting slopes of Mount Everest to government officials in the Maldive Islands holding an underwater cabinet meeting to demand action on climate change.

After the photo in Aspen, participants will gather at Ajax Tavern for free beer, Stranahan’s whiskey, music from the Powder Hounds and a drawing for prizes. Aspen Paragliding, Eco-Flight, Ute Mountaineer, Rocky Mountain Nordic and the Community Office for Resource Efficiency (CORE) have donated giveaways to the event.

Founded by author and environmentalist Bill McKibben, 350.org is the first large-scale grassroots global campaign against climate change.

Spaulding said she also plans to Tweet and put information on Facebook about the upcoming census, which will be conducted in 2010. Apparently Aspenites showed a dismal effort in responding to the 2000 Census – Aspen ranked 229th out of 259 municipalities in Colorado, according to Spaulding.

“Aspen has been under-reported,” she said, adding in 2000, there was a 44 percent return rate.

Letters from the U.S. Census Bureau will be sent to households this winter. Residents are urged to respond so that an accurate representation of the local population is known.

“It’s something important for our community,” Spaulding said, adding Aspen receives funding and grants from the state and federal governments based on its demographics and population. “We’re trying to get the word out now so people know about it.”

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