Council digs into Burlingame dirt |

Council digs into Burlingame dirt

Naomi Havlen

There are still more decisions to be made about excess dirt at the Burlingame affordable housing project.On Tuesday evening the Aspen City Council continued discussions about what to do with more than 40,000 cubic yards of unexpected, unstable topsoil on the construction site. The four council members in attendance agreed to try to minimize the cost of getting rid of the dirt by selling as much as possible.According to assistant city manager Ed Saddler, the Zolines, owners of the adjacent Bar/X Ranch, have expressed interest in taking one-fourth of the topsoil. The Aspen Municipal Golf Course is also willing to use the soil for berms on the course, although the cost of trucking the dirt there and reseeding it on the property may cost as much as $530,000.City Council members agreed that as many options as possible should be pursued, including asking the city’s Open Space Board if it will fund reseeding the dirt if it is moved to the golf course, which is open space property.The city must also decide what to do with the site’s dirt management plan. Although council members at the meeting agreed they don’t want developers to grade the entire Burlingame site (including phases 2 and 3) while they work on phase 1 of the project, they asked the city staff to evaluate if the cost of that decision must truly cost more than $800,000, as previously thought.The huge sum includes creating berms to store the extra dirt from phase 1 that later can be used during phase 2 and 3, seeding it and irrigating it. But council members said they would rather keep that soil on the site than pay to truck it away and bring it back when the other phases are being constructed.The council also left the priciest item recommended by city staff undecided – the possibility of adding basements beneath two of the project’s buildings for $1.29 million. Developers have discovered that where the two buildings are placed on the property is too low for a sewer system to work without a pump station and basements to raise the buildings.Councilman J.E. DeVilbiss said he’d rather those two buildings weren’t built at all than spend the extra money on basements, while council members Rachel Richards, Jack Johnson and Torre expressed interest in spending just $200,000 on putting deep foundations on the buildings to solve the problem.The unsettled decisions may be decided at the City Council’s next regular meeting on July 25, said City Manager Steve Barwick.The council also gave city staff and developers direction on a laundry list of other changes to the residences at Burlingame, including adding gas stoves, prewiring bedroom and living room ceilings for ceiling fans, and adding solid countertops in all bathrooms.Naomi Havlen’s e-mail address is

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