Roundabout to feature a natural look |

Roundabout to feature a natural look

A natural centerpiece should grace Aspen’s new roundabout, rather than manmade art, upvalley government officials agreed yesterday.

City Council members and Pitkin County commissioners agreed natural, indigenous landscaping would make the best first impression for travelers circling the new roundabout at the intersection of Maroon Creek Road and Highway 82.

“At 30 miles an hour, maybe not having any distractions would be the way to go,” said Commissioner Shellie Harper, voicing the collective sentiment of the group. A high-traffic area is probably not the best place to admire a sculpture, officials agreed.

Stressing that final decisions don’t have to be made quite yet, city Parks Director Jeff Woods introduced several preliminary landscaping ideas that might do justice to the small, circular plot of land that sits at the “gateway to not only Aspen but also the gateway to two national forests.”

Looking to combine the natural assets of the area with practical considerations – like shielding motorists from oncoming headlights – the city parks department developed four design options. The designs incorporate indigenous plant life, including aspens or cottonwood trees, as well as the artistic use of boulders measuring six to eight feet in diameter.

The majority of officials endorsed a combination of two designs that would place aspens, wildflowers, sage and perhaps a strategically placed boulder or two in the eye of the roundabout.

“If the name of the town was Cottonwood, maybe I’d want to plant some cottonwood,” said Commissioner Mick Ireland, summing up the shared resolve to make sure that Aspen’s namesake is featured in the design.

Officials directed the parks department to make sure the design doesn’t “detract from the natural vistas” and to be sure it doesn’t feature vegetation that “would draw critters unnecessarily.”

No one wants to jockey with bears for lane space in the roundabout, noted City Councilman Tom McCabe.

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