Debate over design of roundabout continues

Jill Beathard
The Aspen Times

The roundabout at Wood and Brush Creek roads in Snowmass might not be constructed this coming summer now, but the town and developer continue to push forward with a design process that has been less than simple.

Long envisioned as a means of increasing safety and aiding traffic flow as the village grows, the roundabout is required to be built by the Base Village developer. The town has been working with Related Colorado, which owns the project through a subsidiary, as well as the owners of the Snowmass Resort Conoco, the only private landowners on the intersection, on the design.

Those owners, Jeff Head and Jeff Jandegian, have expressed concern about losing ease of access from the road to their business. A month ago, Head said at a public meeting that the two were feeling more comfortable with the infrastructure’s impact on the Conoco, but Jandegian is now taking issue with a planned exit onto upper Kearns Road.

To build that exit, the Conoco would have to give up some parking spaces on that side, where customers who are not waiting to get their vehicles fixed typically park to go inside, and some of which the owners pile snow in during the winter. That doesn’t sit well with Jandegian, but neither does only having one entrance and exit point.

Representing the Conoco, attorney Lance Cote sent a letter to Town Manager Clint Kinney last month explaining that position.

“We know of no gas station currently operating out of a single access point; it is simply unsafe and impractical,” Cote wrote. “The town’s offer to remove parking from the property to put in a separate access point is a palliative that requires (the Conoco) to pay the price for the Town’s desire for a roundabout and is not acceptable.”

Public Works Director Anne Martens, who is representing the town on the project, said she thought the Conoco’s concerns had been addressed. After receiving Cote’s letter, Kinney reached out to the attorney to find out “what specifically they would like addressed, and we have not heard back,” Martens said.

“We’re still trying to address concerns,” she said. “We need a uniform consensus” from the two owners, she added.

Jandegian said most people in the community don’t think the roundabout is necessary. If it’s going to be built, though, Jandegian would like for his station to have an entrance opening onto it.

Martens said the town is not considering that an option, though. Standard practice dictates that private access points don’t normally open into a public roundabout, she said.

Jandegian doesn’t buy that argument, pointing out that the roundabout at Highline and Owl Creek roads has an exit into the rodeo grounds. Martens said that will likely change as the town entryway gets redeveloped.

“Our ultimate goal is to have a design that is safe,” Martens said.

Public comments have been collected on the design, and the plans are submitted, so now the town is waiting for feedback from Related, Martens said. Dwayne Romero, president of Related Colorado, told the Aspen Board of Realtors on Thursday that he now expects to break ground on the roundabout and the second phase of the Viceroy condominium/hotel complex in 2016 rather than next summer. That’s because the town now expects the land-use review of the new plans for Base Village to last into September.

Martens said she hasn’t formally heard about that new timeline yet, but either way, the roundabout’s design will move forward. That way, the design will be adequately vetted and complete when Related is ready to break ground, she said.