In Brief: River restoration in Carbondale; Aspen program aims to help with commercial projects

Carbondale closes stretch of river access for restoration

The town of Carbondale and project partners Roaring Fork Conservancy and Pitkin County Healthy Rivers have closed a one-half mile, 18-acre reach of the Crystal River as it flows through Carbondale for restoration work.

The project includes improvements to the efficiency of the town-owned Weaver Ditch headgate and diversion, enhancement of the Crystal River in the project reach, and upgrades to town-owned Riverfront Park.

The project reach lies between the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Fish Hatchery and the Crystal Bridge Drive’s South Bridge. The land is owned by the town of Carbondale and located within the River Valley Ranch subdivision. Aspen Valley Land Trust, American Rivers, and Colorado Parks & Wildlife were also involved in various stages of the planning process.

The riverfront trail in Riverfront Park upriver from the Crystal Bridge Drive in River Valley Ranch is closed. Officials said they don’t have a re-opening date yet.

River access from this park and from upstream will also be closed during the construction project for public safety reasons. This is due to the in-river construction of the Weaver ditch diversion and the riverbank stabilization and native landscaping project conducted from the river.

Free COVID testing ends on Monday in Garfield County

The free COVID PCR testing sponsored by Garfield County Public Health ends on July 31. The last day to access PCR testing in Carbondale, in the parking lot behind Town Hall, is Sunday, July 30, between 11 a.m.-3 p.m.

Free take-home antigen tests are available while supplies last at Glenwood Springs Garfield County Public Health Department offices and some library branch locations. 

Garfield County Public Health information is provided online on the public health website:

EPIC permit program expedites commercial projects in Aspen

In 2017, the city of Aspen Building Department identified a need and opportunity to partner with the commercial sector, city officials said. Work was being done without permits due to a perceived time constraint. 

The EPIC program was created to assist businesses in obtaining a permit in a timely and expedited manner and prevent work without permit and inspection. The program allows the city to apply codes and ordinances rather than enforce them.   

The EPIC permitting program expedites renovations of commercial properties, officials said. It is designed to have applicants work with city staff on the front end of the application process. A key element in the program is that the applicant needs to have a developed plan that is essentially code compliant prior to submittal, officials said.  

Since the inception of the permit program, over 100 commercial projects have been expedited with permit review, issuance and inspections, saving businesses time in renovating their spaces and opening their doors. 

The program aims to incentivize applicants to apply for and receive permits for proposed alterations and interior finishes to commercial properties through a pre-application process. Applicants using the EPIC program are required to work with city staff prior to permit submittal to ensure that as many issues as possible are addressed. 

“That allows us and the applicant to deal with issues on the front-end of the process and to be as complete as possible in one round of review,” said Plans Examination Manager Denis Murray. “It helps applicants to know the requirements ahead of time and spending that time in pre-submittal allows EPIC permits to be reviewed in the most efficient manner as they can be.” 

This effort aids in the creation of an active streetscape in the downtown core by reducing the negative impacts of the unknown permit issuance timing and helps businesses get open as soon as possible, officials said. 

To qualify, the project must be a commercial use in the commercial core, and it must be alterations that only affect the interior or minor exterior improvements to the space. 

If you are interested in pursuing a permit through the EPIC program, contact the Building Support Specialists.

Foundation gives out grants, including to Habitat of Roaring Fork Valley

The Western Colorado Community Foundation announced its 2023 Community Grants awards to five Western Slope Nonprofit Organizations. 

Building Forward grants totaling $110,000 were awarded to help non-profits strengthen organizational capacity, expand programs, improve competencies, and invest in systems to increase effectiveness to address housing affordability/attainability and homelessness across western Colorado, foundation officials said.

The following organizations will receive awards ranging from $10,000 to $25,000 as part of WCCF’s goal to provide planning and organizational capacity building funding typically not available, and that helps an organization leverage larger foundation and federal/state dollars to build out housing and shelter projects.

  • Habitat for Humanity Mesa County — Expand programs with AmeriCorps staffing support
  • Habitat for Humanity Roaring Fork Valley — Planning grant for manufactured housing factory
  • Home Trust of Ouray County — Increased staffing to expand programs
  • Housing Resources of Western Colorado — Integrated Accounting System
  • Roaring Fork Community Development Corp. — Resident owned community model