Pitkin County green lights electric vehicles purchase | AspenTimes.com

Pitkin County green lights electric vehicles purchase

Pitkin County will acquire three electric vehicles using mostly federal funds.

In a 3-1 vote Wednesday, county commissioners agreed to the purchase, which will be made with $165,580 in federal grant money and a local match of $34,420.

It was the final and deciding vote following a string of discussions about the matter.

The pilot program also will include two charging stations, which the public can use.

“The pool vehicle program has been operating at (or over) capacity for about nine months of every year,” states a memo from county Public Works Director Brian Pettet and Fleet Manager Jonah Frank. “This has resulted in employees driving their personal vehicles for county business. This purchase will help rectify the situation. In addition, this purchase will provide departments with transportation required for business purposes while reducing (carbon monoxide) emissions. Finally, this program would pave the way for other potential (electric vehicle) conversions within the existing county fleet.”

Commissioners Steve Child, Patti Clapper and George Newman voted in favor of the purchase, agreeing that the new vehicles will set a good example for a community that eyes ways to reduce its carbon footprint. Rachel Richards was out of town on county business, and Michael Owsley cast the dissenting vote.

“Although we’re not really addressing the impact of additional traffic or reducing traffic coming across the Castle Creek bridge, … we are starting to address our CO2 emissions along with our electric vehicles, along with the city’s public vehicles, and having public charge stations allows our residents, and perhaps our guests, the opportunity to utilize public cars,” Newman said.

Over the course of discussions about the proposed purchase, Owsley gave pushback on the contention that electric cars don’t benefit the greater good of the county. He held the same ground Wednesday.

“I don’t think it does any public benefit whatsoever,” the commissioner said, noting that county staffers driving electric cars won’t inspire other people to buy them.

In other county news:

• The county came closer to finalizing its $2.59 million purchase of 40 acres of property next to the Lazy Glen subdivision, which is about 2 miles east of Basalt between Highway 82 and the Roaring Fork River.

Commissioners voted 4-0 during a first reading of the ordinance, which will go to a public hearing March 11.

The seller, Five Winds Investments LLC, had originally listed the parcel, which has two undeveloped lots and one lot with a barn and 3,500-square-foot house, for $3.5 million.

The property will be preserved as open space and the barn would store equipment used for grooming the Rio Grande Trail for cross-country skiers.

The open space also will give Lazy Glen residents direct access to the trail. Newman called the pending purchase a “tremendous opportunity for those residents.”

• The county will add another employee-housing unit to its inventory with the $325,000 purchase of a Pitkin Park Place Unit from Howie Mallory. Commissioners voted 4-0 in approval of the acquisition.

The 685-square-foot, two-bedroom, one-bathroom condominium unit is located in the Aspen Business Center.

“The unit will be made available for sale or rental to occupants qualified under the Aspen/Pitkin County Housing Authority’s affordable housing guidelines,” a county memo states. “The unit’s size, location and price make it a desirable addition to the Pitkin County employee housing inventory.”


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