News in Brief | AspenTimes.com

News in Brief

ASPEN ” The investigation into the cause of the Holiday House fire will not be complete for another two days to a week, Aspen Fire Marshal Ed Van Walraven said Tuesday.

A fire gutted the Aspen Skiing Co. employee housing facility Nov. 6, causing millions in damage and putting a significant dent in the housing supply for ski season workers.

Van Walraven said the spot in the building where the fire started has been ascertained, but layers will need to be carefully dug through in order to find a cause, unless something obvious pops up. He said investigators for the Skico’s insurance agency will be on the scene Wednesday.

There is not a cost estimate of loss yet, but David Corbin, Skico’s vice president of planning and development, has said the total budget for refurbishing the Holiday House was $3 million and that “hard costs” for the project were $2.1 million.

The building was valued at $1.3 million by the Pitkin County assessor’s office. The Skico bought the property for $800,000 in 1985.

Van Walraven has not ruled out foul play.

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ASPEN ” Those who work in the building industry can get answers this week as to how they will be affected by a new tax that charges 2.1 percent on construction materials.

A meeting is scheduled Thursday; city officials will explain how the tax will be implemented and how builders will be charged. The meeting will take place from 10 a.m. to noon at the Rio Grande Conference Room (former youth center).

On Nov. 6, voters approved the tax, which applies to materials purchased outside of the city of Aspen that are used for development within the city limits.

Projects with $100,000 or less of materials are exempt. The tax will go toward supporting public transportation within the city.

“This is a great way for us to gather comment from local contractors on how we can make this thing work for everyone involved,” said city finance director Paul Menter, adding that the tax will likely take effect Jan. 1.

“Contractors and others in the building business are going to want to know how this regulation is going to affect their permit submittals and costs,” said Stephen Kanipe, the city’s chief building officer. “They may not be familiar with the use tax, and they are going to want to know the bottom line.”

Other counties and municipalities in the state that already have a use tax include Colorado Springs, Boulder and Pitkin County.

Those who come to the community development office on the third floor of City Hall and sign up in advance will receive passes to park for free during the meeting.

ASPEN ” Bus riders traveling between Aspen and Glenwood Springs at midday can make the one-way trip in an hour once the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority ramps up its winter service next week.

RFTA has announced it will launch the new “Zip Line” service Nov. 22. The express bus will provide one-hour service between Aspen and downtown Glenwood Springs when, previously, only a slower, local bus was available. The local bus makes a multitude of stops and takes one hour, 23 minutes to complete the trip, when it’s running on schedule.

In past winters, the speedier express buses traveling the length of the valley have only been available during peak commuting hours ” in the morning for riders heading upvalley and in the afternoon for riders headed downvalley.

The Zip Line will offer a daily ride from Aspen to Glenwood, leaving Rubey Park in Aspen at 9 a.m. and arriving in downtown Glenwood at 10 a.m., making stops only at major park-and-ride facilities along the way. At 10:05 a.m., the bus will arrive in West Glenwood.

The bus will leave the West Glenwood park-and-ride lot at 2:45 p.m. daily (and downtown Glenwood at 2:53 p.m.), arriving at Rubey Park at 3:50 p.m.

The bus comes in response to requests from riders for a midday express bus, which makes far fewer stops than a local bus, according to RFTA. Its schedule will allow riders to head downvalley in the morning to shop in Glenwood and then return upvalley in the afternoon, the agency said.