City still seeking opinions | AspenTimes.com

City still seeking opinions

Abigail Eagye

Aspen officials are still looking for community input on development issues. The city will sponsor two public meetings Wednesday at the Hotel Jerome as the culmination of a series of community input forums this summer.The city sponsored two weeks’ worth of citizen focus groups in June, limited to roughly 10 people to encourage participation in discussions. City spokeswoman Mitzi Rapkin compiled more than 160 pages of comments from the June meetings, available under “Core Beliefs Focus Groups” at http://www.aspenpitkin.com.Based on themes that came up during the small meetings, city staff has crafted a list of questions and statements for community members to evaluate at Wednesday’s meetings. Many participants in the June meetings cited concerns about whether the council was abiding by the letter of the city’s land-use codes. According to Rapkin, a number of people said they don’t want to see council allow exemptions or variances from the code.”A lot of people were frustrated because they didn’t feel City Council was handing down consistent … decisions,” she said.Other themes from the June meetings include pace of development, the downtown commercial mix, lodging issues, streetscape aesthetics and government’s role in development.Participants at Wednesday’s meetings will use state-of-the-art feedback technology to respond to the questions, and answers will be tallied immediately and displayed on a screen. That will allow the meetings’ facilitator, Denver consultant Chris Gates, to address any interesting or surprising group responses on the spot.Gates, whose specialty is civic engagement, has worked for the National Civic League in Denver. He began a new position as executive director of the nonprofit group Philanthropy for Active Civic Engagement earlier this year.The city will also be able to use information gathered at the meeting to look for demographic trends, such as trends in thinking within age groups or geographic areas – or inconsistencies within those groups.”I certainly will pay attention to [the information],” Councilman J.E. DeVilbiss said. “But if it’s like a lot of the things that happen here, there’s going to be two sides.””The difficulty is always reconciling conflicting goals,” Councilwoman Rachel Richards said.”I am always going to consider all the input we get from all the sources,” she said. “It all weighs in to informing your decision.”Core Beliefs community meetingsWhen: Wednesday, July 19 at 11:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Where: Hotel Jerome BallroomFor more info: Mitzi Rapkin, 920-5082 or mitzi@ci.aspen.co.usAbigail Eagye’s e-mail address is abby@aspentimes.com

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