P&Z: Where is the transit at Truscott?
What happened to transit at transit-oriented Truscott Place?That question unraveled the Aspen Planning and Zoning Commission Tuesday during what was supposed to be its final look at the proposed Truscott affordable housing redevelopment.After more than two hours of debate, much of it centered on parking spaces and traffic concerns, the P&Z appeared ready to withhold a recommendation to approve the housing project.Instead, the commission was kicked out of the Pitkin County Library meeting room by the group scheduled to use it next, and discussion on the project was tabled until July 18.The Truscott project calls for 99 new rental units for workers near the municipal golf course, new tennis courts, a new golf clubhouse/nordic center and a redesigned intersection that will bring traffic signals to the entrance to the golf course/Truscott complex from Highway 82. There are 98 existing rental units at Truscott.The Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority hopes to take the proposal to the City Council for first reading on July 24 and receive final approval in August, said Lee Novak, project manager for the housing office.Construction work is scheduled to start Oct. 1. Work on the first of the new housing would begin in April 2001, Lee said. Work on the intersection would also begin early next spring.A handful of neighbors pressed the P&Z to push the intersection work to the forefront or demand temporary traffic signals at the heavily traveled site.”We are adamant that we need that light. We think this is the most dangerous intersection we’ve got,” said Carol Farino, president of the Aspen Tennis Club Subdivision Homeowners Association. The subdivision is located across Highway 82 from Truscott.P&Z members seemed amenable to making immediate installation of a signal a condition of their approval, though they didn’t get that far before they were booted from the meeting room.It was transit concerns, though, that heated up discussion before the unexpected suspension of the debate.No one voiced support for the city transportation department’s proposal at Truscott – hefty parking fees for residents plus an escalating fee system that would charge residents for using their cars.But P&Z member Jasmine Tygre said housing officials had failed to provide specific proposals to ensure transit use by residents of the complex.”How did a transit-friendly project become 200 cars in and out?” she said. “I don’t really feel you have addressed the problem. How are you going to get people in this project on public transportation?””It was a transit-oriented project. It was proposed on that premise,” agreed P&Z Chairman Bob Blaich, suggesting the commission not “rubber stamp” the proposal unless it is satisfied that its transit concerns have been addressed.Troubling the P&Z, and particularly Tygre, was a Roaring Fork Transit Agency report that indicated standing-room-only buses might make Truscott residents less inclined to take a bus.The P&Z can’t, however, force the housing office to, for example, pay RFTA for the added cost of serving another development, said city planner Chris Bendon. Nor can it force RFTA to provide a bus with empty seats.”I don’t have the tools to call up RFTA and say, `You gotta serve this project,’ ” he said.
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