Recycling center could go to voters
The effort to put city approval of a new recycling center at Rio Grande Park to a public vote began Wednesday when opponents of the location turned in language for a petition.In addition to opposing the location, petition backers, including many neighbors, contend the center is inconsistent with the park’s master plan. And the Friends of Rio Grande Park group question the estimated $737,000 cost and building heights.The plan, which the Aspen City Council approved unanimously June 26, calls for two open structures in an “L” shape near the Aspen skateboard park, where the recycling center is currently located. Opponents of the plan want the city to move the center to a site behind Community Bank, at the corner of Rio Grande Place and Mill Street. The recycling center recently moved there temporarily to accommodate construction of the Obermeyer Place development.Council members, though, have said they are not interested in the corner site for the center’s permanent home.Petition supporters also took umbrage with the council’s voting process, saying public notice was inadequate.City Clerk Kathryn Koch has five days to analyze the petition language to ensure it’s legal. If the petition is accepted, referendum organizers would have 30 days to collect the signatures of 562 registered voters who reside in Aspen.Their goal is to place the issue on the November ballot, a task Koch said may be hard to achieve. Petitioners have to turn in the 562 names in early August.The clerk’s office then has 30 days from that date to verify the names. Her report on the petition’s validity would come in early September, when the council is due to finalize the November ballot.”I’m not sure we would make November,” Koch said. “It’s very close.”In a boost to opponents of the plan, she said the signature verification process can usually be completed in less than 30 days. Should it not make the November ballot, the next election may not be until February.The council has a six-month window to schedule an election on a valid referendum.”Our regular election is in May. But the law says we have to have an election to address their issue,” Koch said.She said she would try to both complete the initial verification of the petition language and tell petition organizers her decision by the end of today.Chad Abraham’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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