Senior Aspen elected official mulls final days in office
With just two months left, Aspen City Councilwoman Ann Mullins is eager to finish out several projects after serving two, four-year terms
With just 72 days left in her eight-year term as an Aspen City Councilwoman, Ann Mullins has an ambitious punch list of policies and tasks to complete before leaving office.
Mullins, who was elected in 2013 and is term-limited, serves as a city representative on various board of directors, including the Roaring Fork Transit Authority.
The agency is grappling with COVID-19 public health orders limiting buses at 50% capacity and an increased demand in people visiting the Maroon Bells, which can only be accessed by RFTA, or on foot or bike.
“The main thing is that the ticket system, which worked last year, but we’ve got to get the downhill people paying to come downhill and make reservations, so we don’t have 100 people up there trying to get on buses,” Mullin said. “The other biggie, and we have to work with (Pitkin) County and this has to get done be done by May, is e-bike management, which is tough for the bus drivers, the bikers, … and a lot of these e-bike renters are not experienced.”
Mullins, 70, serves on the board of Community Office for Resource Efficiency, which is going through a transition on how the 27-year-old nonprofit is funded and what its mission should be in the future.
“CORE will be coming to council to secure funding so I want to make sure they get the money they need, how the next couple of years are transition years so hopefully by the time I leave CORE will have a pretty solid transition plan to adapt to changes in funding and how to get more funding,” she said. “It’s time to bring CORE back into the forefront and show how important it is.”
Her other role is serving on the Ruedi Water and Power Authority, and an intergovernmental agreement needs to be signed between Pitkin and Eagle counties, as well as Aspen, Snowmass Village, Basalt, Carbondale and Glenwood Springs.
“Every year we have this IGA and every year there is a little glitch or hiccup in it, and it’s really important that it get signed,” Mullins said, adding that she’s also focused on continuing a program to keep boaters from bringing mussels to the reservoir this summer.
As a member of City Council, Mullins said she wants to ensure the COVID-19 summer vitality program, which involves allowing restaurants to operate in the public right of way, is good to go.
“Of course, COVID is front and center,” she said, noting that economic relief programs need revisiting, along with social programs.
Improvements to the city-owned ice garden are on Mullins’ radar, and she’s working with the parks department to see if it can be included in their overall system.
“Let’s take a look at the value of the ice garden within our park system and make sure it’s being utilized as well as it should be and is physically in good shape,” she said. “It’s a really unique building and a facility rich in history. I don’t think it’s as appreciated as it should be.”
An effort to clean up alleys in the downtown core was a focus of the council right before the pandemic hit Aspen in mid-March 2020, so Mullins said she wants that effort to be resurrected.
An estimated $600,000 project to make the Jail Trail, which connects Rio Grande Park to downtown, less steep is a project Mullins is watching closely, as she is concerned about proposed retaining walls and the cost.
Along with that is the eventual design of Galena Plaza where the trail leads to, as well as the new 37,500-square-foot City Hall currently under construction.
“Galena Plaza will be coming before council, and we need to make a final decision on that,” she said, “and I want to be involved.”
On the affordable housing front, Mullins wants to vote on amendments to the land-use code that better support deed-restricted housing being built, along with deciding on a number of affordable housing units to be built at the city-developed lumberyard site at the Aspen Business Center.
“I’d love to get closer to the final decision on the lumberyard, and I’m not sure we will, but at some point you have to make a decision on density,” she said. “I would love to see some definitive direction on that before I leave.”
Heading into the summer, Mullins wants to make sure bike and pedestrian safety measures are added to downtown, and a seven-block stretch in the West End becomes a dedicated bike and pedestrian thoroughfare in which cars cannot travel through.
Environmentally, Mullins said she wants council to agree on a funding mechanism for a clean storm water program to reduce pollution from entering the Roaring Fork River.
Incentives for commercial building owners to retrofit their properties to be more energy efficient in a program called Building IQ also is a focus for Mullins before she leaves office.
“I don’t want that to disappear,” she said, noting there are about 15 meetings left in her tenure and the topics of some work sessions haven’t been decided. “I keep pushing Building IQ so I have to get it on the schedule.”
An overhaul to the grant process for local, cultural nonprofits and health and human services is nearly complete, and a composting program at the Rio Grande Recycling Center is in process, Mullins noted.
Finally, Mullins will be part of council’s discussion about the decision-making authority of the city’s all-volunteer citizen Historic Preservation Commission, which has final say over some land-use applications.
“Can HPC make the final decision or does it have to go back to the council? And I think it’s not a black and white question,” she said. “I really want to have that discussion because I’ve got a couple of proposals that I think might satisfy everybody at the table.”
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