Residents voice ire at Aspen town hall meeting
November 6, 2009
ASPEN – About a dozen residents attended the city of Aspen’s town hall meeting Wednesday, complaining about pedestrian safety, stormwater fees and idling buses parked in neighborhoods.
The gathering was the last in a series of four neighborhood meetings where officials took note of what’s on residents’ minds and updated people on city activities, including the proposed 2010 budget.
Resident David Guthrie kicked off a lengthy conversation about improving pedestrian safety on Main Street, which he has voiced concern about for the past decade or so.
City engineers recently devised a $3.1 million overhaul for Main Street that included center medians and other amenities. But they couldn’t get buy-in from residents, mostly because it was too expensive and elaborate.
Guthrie said business owners and residents along Main Street were never consulted about what they think should be done before the plan was created.
“The point is to get people who understand Main Street and get their input first,” he said. “It’s very simple, speed bumps and enforcement … We don’t need a $100,000 crosswalk, we need a painted speed bump.”
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City Engineer Trish Aragon said her department plans to take another look at Main Street this year. A design will be created that will be less expensive than the previous one but will hopefully achieve the same goals.
City Manager Steve Barwick said because Main Street is a state highway, it’s been difficult to get approval from the Colorado Department of Transportation over the years to make any major changes. He also noted that previous city councils have rejected other proposals.
Valerie MacDonald submitted her complaint via e-mail about large charter buses that serve local lodges and are parking in her neighborhood, taking up spaces and idling, which is against city law.
Assistant City Manager Randy Ready said lodge representatives know that buses can only load and unload for up to an hour outside their properties.
Buses are encouraged to park near Koch Lumber Park and the Buttermilk parking lot.
Aspen Police Chief Richard Pryor said if buses are idling, residents need to call the police department.
Tim Anderson, a homeowner in the Smuggler Trailer Park, complained that the city’s stormwater development fee is too expensive and onerous on property owners, and said the entire program is misdirected.
He said he wants to remodel and expand his modest trailer on his 3,000-square-foot lot but the city’s stormwater system development fee would cost him nearly $50,000.
In May 2007, the council approved a system development fee of $2.88 charged to each “impervious” square foot of redevelopment and new development in the city.
Anderson said he alone isn’t creating the stormwater runoff problem and shouldn’t have to pay huge fees. The focus, he said, should first be directed at the largest creators of runoff, such as like the Aspen Skiing Co., which makes snow and creates sediment that flows off the mountain, through the streets and eventually into the Roaring Fork River.
“Get the Skico to put in catch basins,” he said, adding the responsibility of funding the city’s program shouldn’t fall on individual property owners, many of whom are stretched thin financially.
“There’s a gap in functionality and reality in this program … it’s insane making people go through bureaucracy for a pie-in-the-sky program.”
Anderson also informed city officials that large trucks and semi-trailers delivering to the Residences at the Little Nell are parking in no-parking zones. It was an issue brought up when the project got approval, and Anderson said no one appears to be enforcing the laws in that area.
“It amazes me all this stuff people forget about,” he said. “No one ever follows this stuff up.”