Misleading memorandum | AspenTimes.com

Misleading memorandum

(This letter was originally addressed to Alice Hubbard, director of long-range planning for the Roaring Fork Transit Agency.)We are writing this letter to comment formally on the “Third Draft – Phasing Scenario for the West Glenwood Springs-to-Aspen CIS/DEIS,” dated Jan. 15, which we understand is the most current draft under consideration.We believe that the memorandum is incomplete and, as a consequence, is misleading for the following reasons:First, the memorandum obviously anticipates implementation of the ROD (Memorandum, page 4), despite the fact that the voters of Aspen rejected the ROD in the May 2001 election. The memorandum fails to mention this critical May 2001 vote, even though it acknowledges numerous other votes (Memorandum, page 3). Stated another way, the “phasing” approach on which the memorandum seems to be predicated has already been rejected by the voters of Aspen. (Nor, we note, does the memorandum refer to the 1996 vote, in which Aspen voters approved a rail solution without phasing.)Second, the memorandum does not acknowledge the fact that the ROD has been challenged in a lawsuit filed in the federal district court in Denver and that the case remains pending with the court, not having issued a decision since the matter was submitted in the fall of 2000.The fact is, that nothing can be built pursuant to the ROD without the right to do so being confirmed by a final decision in the federal courts (which we do not believe will be the result).Third, while dealing with cost considerations in a number of respects (Memorandum, pages 10-12, 14-15), the memorandum fails to acknowledge the central fact, which has been stated repeatedly by representatives of CDOT, that there is no funding available for the Entrance to Aspen project for the next 20 years.All of these concerns relate only to the Entrance to Aspen aspect of the memorandum, but the Entrance to Aspen appears to be critical to the overall plans envisioned by the memorandum. While there are alternatives proposed, the memorandum makes it clear that it is presupposed that a “2-lane parkway” and construction of light rail … or construction of a dedicated 2-lane busway” will be built “per the Entrance to Aspen ROD” (Memorandum, page 4). We fail to understand how the memorandum can, as it does, characterize any alternative with the impediments outlined above as “committed” (Memorandum, page 4).To ignore the May 2001 vote rejecting the ROD, to ignore the existence of an unresolved lawsuit challenging the ROD, and to ignore the fact that there is no funding for the ROD for the next 20 years, all serve to undermine the memorandum as an objective presentation entitled to credibility, and renders it misleading to members of the public who may read and rely upon its contents. We urge that the memorandum be amended to disclose these critical facts in the interests of completeness, clarity and furthering public knowledge and awareness. Alternatively, we request that this letter be incorporated as citizens comments in whatever further memoranda may be issued.Dennis VaughnFriends of Marolt Park & Open SpaceAspen