Council’s entrance decision explained
Any issue debated for years eventually gets reduced to purely religious arguments. The environmentalists attack EIS supporters as SUV wolves in mass transit clothing, train fanatics believe anyone skeptical of a billion dollar valley wide alternative just needs to be converted, and we end up with an open wound consuming the attention and resources of the community on and on. At some point it is the responsibility of City Council to stop the hemorrhaging.Monday night Aspen City Council voted to honor the citizens’ vote on Entrance to Aspen, honor a contract signed by a previous council, and follow the preferred alternative of the approved Environmental Impact Statement concerning the Entrance to Aspen. The facts concerning this vote;-60% of the voters authorized City Council in 1996 to convey a right of way to the State of Colorado “for a two lane parkway and a corridor for a light rail transit system” subject to certain terms and conditions.-The Environmental Impact Statement issued on Entrance to Aspen concurred with the vote and approved dedicated bus lanes as a temporary alternative to light rail.-In 1998 City Council signed a contract with Pitkin County and CDOT to transfer land and easements to accomplish the 1996 vote (despite the convenience of selective memory, Terry Paulson did approve this contract). In subsequent years CDOT and the County executed their portions of the contract.-If Council reneged Monday on its contract, funding from the state for the Entrance to Aspen would be at risk.-Subsequent “no” votes since 1996 have said we do not want to fund light rail right now, we do not want to fund a dedicated busway across Marolt right now, and we do not want a roundabout at Cemetery Lane and keep Hwy 82 two lane thru the S curves.A “no” vote on Monday by City Council risked living with the S curves for the next decade, if not longer. I personally love the quaintness of the S curves, and spent the last year looking at possible improvements to avoid another massive construction project. The conclusion I came to was the S curves could never accommodate any future light rail option, could never provide dedicated bus lanes, could never reach acceptable safety standards, and any improvements would require an unacceptable sacrifice of numerous historical private residences.The bottom line is a “yes” vote on Monday indicated City Council is serious about a mass transit solution. The Entrance to Aspen will create a transit platform that will accommodate future light rail to Buttermilk, electric trolley buses, motorized rickshaws, electric scooters, or any other technology we agree to in a future vote. I believe a significant majority of Aspen citizens still want a mass transit solution, want an alternative to the S curves, and eventually will agree on exactly what type of transit works for our unique town. Even though I listened carefully to every reason to renege our contract (and ignore prior votes) with the county and CDOT, there was not sufficient reason to overturn prior majority decisions.My thanks to everyone who spoke up Monday night. It’s infinitely more difficult to move forward in good faith than to spin about forever in the past.Tim SemrauAspen City Council
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Andrew Huntsman and Ralph Smalley were chosen by the seniors to give the class address during Basalt High School’s graduation ceremony on Saturday. This had the two BHS teachers questioning the legitimacy of those diplomas they were about to hand out.