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Romero running for council

John ColsonAspen, CO Colorado
Paul Conrad/The Aspen Times
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ASPEN Local construction manager Dwayne Romero, who called himself “deeply committed to the notion of service above self,” is the first to throw his hat into the ring for Aspen City Council.Romero says the most critical issue Aspen faces today is the much-debated Entrance to Aspen, followed by what he believes is an insufficient emphasis on affordable housing and his belief that the middle class is being forced out of town.

Romero, 42, has lived in Aspen since 2003, when he, his wife, Margaret, and their three daughters left their home of six and a half years in Carbondale.He has worked on some of the largest development projects in the valley, including River Valley Ranch in Carbondale, Aspen Highlands Village, and the Obermeyer Place mixed-use project of condos and commercial properties. Romero and his firm, Steeplechase Partners, are construction managers of The Residences at Little Nell at the base of Aspen Mountain.Romero is the first to formally announce his candidacy for one of two open seats on the City Council. Other names have surfaced from the political rumor mill, but calls from The Aspen Times have yielded no firm commitments to run. Romero points proudly to his list of accomplishments on a Position Statement and Central Theme paper he prepared to launch his campaign, starting with his 1987 graduation from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y.Romero served as a combat engineer in the U.S. Army for seven years, including a stint in the first Gulf War where, he said, he earned a Bronze Star for Leadership Valor in Combat.He is a graduate and past-president of Leadership Aspen/Roaring Fork (2000) and received the organization’s Alumni Award in 2005; he is a past president of the Aspen Highlands Commercial & Residential Metropolitan District (1998 to 2003); and is currently on the boards of the Aspen Fire Protection District, Aspen Rotary Club and Aspen Highlands Village Master Association. He also is president of the board at the Aspen Historical Society.Calling the list his track record of service, Romero said it “provides me with a deep understanding of the difficulties and challenges of good governance” and with “the tools and experiences to take on a leadership role on our council.”

In his written statement, Romero emphasized the importance of “the process of consensus building” and added, “said another way, I play well with others.”Addressing some of the top issues of the day, Romero said he has “never been a supporter of the ‘preferred alternative,'” which is the official term for the modified straight-shot alignment the Colorado Department of Transportation chose to fix the bottleneck at the Entrance to Aspen.Instead, he prefers an informal alternative known as the “split-shot,” in which inbound traffic lanes would follow the existing highway alignment to a point close to the Castle Creek bridge and then veer south to cross the creek on a new bridge connecting directly to Main Street. Westbound traffic would remain on the existing alignment of Highway 82, through the S-curves, which follows West Hallam, Seventh and Main streets.”It’s an attempt to try to keep the Marolt property intact,” he said of the public park that occupies most of a triangle of land bounded by Highway 82, Castle Creek Road and Castle Creek itself.He conceded that CDOT studied various alternatives before choosing the modified straight-shot – a route that splits the Marolt property in two – at a cost of millions of dollars and several years of effort.

But, he would like to see city voters decide whether to accept the modified straight-shot or look for another alternative, such as the split-shot. If the voters wanted further study, he said, “It’d be back to the drawing board.”As for the development moratorium, Romero said he did not like the idea when it was first proposed last year, but he “respected and appreciated the motivations” behind it and conceded, “construction impacts are real.”He suggested that the city needs to hire additional construction management personnel to oversee the industry, and that the industry needs to do more to work with the city and find ways to minimize impacts.Romero also said he would work for “more, more, more” affordable housing, and is in favor of an emphasis on mass transit over private automobiles in future traffic-management measures.John Colson’s e-mail address is jcolson@aspentimes.com


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