Newsmakers honorable mention | AspenTimes.com

Newsmakers honorable mention

They didn’t make the final cut as the top newsmakers of 2007, but Aspen’s Canary Initiative, City Manager Steve Barwick, the duo of Garfield & Hecht and Related WestPac’s Pat Smith all earned an honorable mention. Here’s why:Canary InitiativeThe city of Aspen previously adopted a program called the Canary Initiative to assess its production of greenhouse gases and identify how it could reduce them. One of its greatest successes so far is reducing the amount of electricity being produced from coal-burning plants. The city is already acquiring 75 percent of its electricity from renewable sources 28 percent from wind-power farms; 31 percent from local hydroelectric sources; and 16 percent via noncarbon energy contracts with wholesale providers.Over the next five years and in conjunction with the Canary Initiative Action Plan, our goal is to bring this number up to 100 percent, the citys website says. Voters assisted that effort in November when they approved funding for a small hydropower project on Castle Creek. Scott CondonSteve BarwickThe eye of Aspens political storms often pass over City Manager Steve Barwick, who became embroiled in two maelstroms during 2007. The two controversies brought comments that Barwick, who earns $157,000 a year as the administrative head of the city, was not being transparent in his governance. In June, Barwick offered Public Works Director Phil Overeynder lifetime housing as an enticement to stay in the job five more years. Afterward, Barwick and other officials offered conflicting comments on who was responsible for the decision; Barwick ended up apologizing to the entire city staff for not informing them of his decision earlier. In November, when Police Chief Loren Ryerson resigned amid allegations of misconduct, Barwick declined to explain what type of misconduct Ryerson engaged in. The result was that there was no clear direction to city employees or to Aspen citizens about how much misconduct someone can engage in before losing their job. The issue was further muddied by the fact that Barwick allowed Ryerson to stay in employee housing for two years and granted Ryerson a pass to the Aspen Recreation Center. Joel StoningtonRon Garfield & Andy HechtTheir names are Ron and Andy, but many know them simply as Garfield & Hecht. Depending on ones perspective, they either are Aspens equivalent to late 19th-century robber barons or a partnership of very cagey attorneys taking full advantage of the towns ongoing real estate boom.Ron Garfield and Andy Hecht, working with multiple partners, currently have ownership interests in some of the highest-profile real estate projects within the city limits.Two of those projects are the redevelopment of the Cooper Street Pier and The Red Onion restaurant and bar businesses, two of Aspens last truly local watering holes. The redevelopment plans, as announced, have sparked considerable controversy, although both Garfield and Hecht have argued before the Aspen City Council that their goal is to preserve some measure of the existing local flavor.A third high-profile project is redevelopment, in some as-yet unknown way, of the Mill Street Commercial Center complex. The project is adjacent the Roaring Fork River along Mill Street and is zoned Service/Commercial/Industrial as a way of providing affordable retail space for locally oriented business.Adding to its local luster, the law firm is suing the city over its recent denial of the Cooper Street Pier redevelopment plan, arguing that the city overstepped its authority in denying the application for subdividing the property.Meanwhile, plans for the Onion appear to be in some kind of flux. Workers have stripped much of the old furnishings and equipment from the bar and are now working to shore up the structure, rebuilding floors and ceilings soaked by decades of beer. But no announcement has been made about the signing of an operator for the restaurant and bar, just as uncertainty remains about the fate of the Omnibus Gallery next door.Neither of the two principals in the firm have responded to repeated interview requests. John ColsonPat SmithThank one man for the new look in the town of Snowmass Village.Pat Smith, an Aspen developer and a principal investor in Related WestPac is leading the Base Village project. And in 2007, nothing has so altered the towns landscape as the cranes and construction crews busily putting together the ski areas next incarnation.As Snowmass Village the resort celebrated 40 years in December, the last pieces of Smiths vision are taking shape.Next on the horizon, redeveloping the existing mall area in Snowmass Village. And while he was just one of 60 people at a recent push-button voting session discussing options for the future of the town, its clear that Pat Smith has his hands on the controls. Charles Agar