City prepares ?fact sheet? on entrance question | AspenTimes.com

City prepares ?fact sheet? on entrance question

Janet Urquhart
Aspen Times Staff Writer

A ?Fact Sheet? to help voters understand November?s Entrance to Aspen ballot question received the Aspen City Council?s nod Tuesday over one councilman?s strenuous objections.

The council decided to put out the paper to help clear up voter confusion and answer their questions, according to Mayor Helen Klanderud. But agreeing on a neutral presentation of the ?facts? apparently gave council members considerable trouble. The latest iteration of the fact sheet, distributed to the council yesterday, fell short in Councilman Tom McCabe?s estimation, while Councilman Terry Paulson objected to its release in any form.

?I want to make a motion that the city not put a fact sheet out,? he said.

Paulson?s refusal to endorse the document had Klanderud wondering if the city should proceed with the endeavor.

?If this goes out as a statement of council, should it be agreed to by all members of the council?? she mused.

Paulson complained that the fact sheet leads to other, unanswered questions and suggested the only ?true fact? it offers is that there is a ballot question.

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?I think this is leading nowhere,? he said.

?The longer I think about it, I wonder if we?re creating more problems than we solve,? Klanderud agreed, though she ultimately endorsed the fact sheet.

Most on the council agreed the paper, drafted by City Attorney John Worcester with their input, is an innocuous presentation of, well, the facts.

?I think it?s fairly benign,? said Councilman Tim Semrau.

In fact, it has to be. City government is prohibited by law from distributing campaign propaganda financed with taxpayer dollars.

?The facts are the facts,? said Councilman Tony Hershey. ?Tell me what is opinion in this, please, Terry.?

Paulson offered no specific objections to the language in response, but argued the facts should come out in the campaign to be waged by parties on both sides of the debate.

McCabe was incredulous.

?This being unadorned, basic facts with no spin on it, he [Paulson] finds it objectionable,? McCabe said. ?That?s like, amazing.?

McCabe, however, suggested that some wording from the Record of Decision on the entrance be added to the document to explain the evolution of the ROD.

?It doesn?t say where the Record of Decision comes from,? he said. ?It?s the end product of a long, complicated process.?

All but Paulson agreed to add the language.

Worcester said he plans to make the final version of the fact sheet available for the public this morning.

The fact sheet offers the wording of the Nov. 5 ballot question on the entrance, which will be posed to both Aspen and Pitkin County voters.

Voters will be asked which Highway 82 alignment at the entrance they prefer: the existing alignment, often referred to as the S-curves; or the Modified Direct alignment across the Marolt/Thomas property.

Both alignments are described in greater detail in the fact sheet, and maps of both options are included.

The fact sheet also offers a brief explanation of the city?s rationale for posing next month?s ballot question and answers a couple of questions about what can result from the election.

Under the heading, ?Council?s reason for posing the question,? the draft of the fact sheet distributed yesterday reads:

?A majority of the members of the Aspen City Council seek direction from the citizens of Aspen with respect to the proper alignment for State Highway 82 at the entrance to Aspen. The Record of Decision issued by the Colorado Department of Transportation states that their preferred alignment (Modified Direct) is across the Marolt open space and Thomas properties. The voters approved this alignment in the 1996 election on the condition that construction is limited to a two-lane parkway and a corridor for a light-rail transit system (to be constructed when financing is available).

?In recent months, some Aspen citizens have suggested that this alignment is not in the best interests of the community and CDOT should forgo any effort to use the Marolt and Thomas properties for the alignment of the highway. The results of the ballot question [are] not intended to constitute formal approval for the conveyance of any city-owned property or change any previously granted authority in prior elections. A majority of the members of the Aspen City Council desire to survey the citizenry of Aspen on which of the two alignments referenced in the ballot question CDOT should pursue for State Highway 82 at the entrance to Aspen.?

The fact sheet also asks, ?Could the result of the election authorize the conveyance of any additional properties to CDOT??

The provided answer is: ?No. No matter what the result of the election, the ballot question neither seeks authorization to convey any additional city-owned property to CDOT, nor does it attempt to repeal any previously voter approved conveyances.?

The fact sheet further asks, ?Will the result of the election determine what mode of transportation is authorized on either alignment??

It answers: ?No. The ballot question seeks only to determine community preference for an alignment and does not relate to any particular mode of transportation (light rail, buses, or four lanes of traffic).

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