Snowmass council to dive in on capital improvement projects
Several major capital improvement projects will get a closer look during work session budget review
‘Tis the budget season in Snowmass Village, where Town Council members are reviewing the breakdown on $48 million in potential revenue and $63 million in proposed expenditures for 2022.
Despite more spending than earning, the budget still sticks to the town’s fiscally conservative standards because about half of the expenditures — roughly $32 million — are capital projects, purchases and repairs that will be covered by reserves, funds carried forward into the new year and other monies already set aside specifically for those purposes.
Some of those capital improvement projects likely will be the main focal point in Monday night’s work session. At last week’s budget discussion, council members requested an overview of proposed big-ticket items, including a potential roundabout, the Town Park redesign and a broadband internet expansion. Concepts like an Ice Age Discovery Center and a bike lane on Highline Road are not currently on the budget but are on the agenda for consideration after council requested more information last week.
The Mountain View apartment complex remodel also is on the agenda for an overview; that project will revamp the 30-year-old complex and is funded through housing reserves.
Coming around to another roundabout
A proposed roundabout at the intersection of Brush Creek Road and Owl Creek Road could help improve traffic flow and serve as a traffic calming measure. But the idea isn’t a slam-dunk solution in the eyes of some community members who have questioned the size and necessity of the change and how it might impact community character.
The current council seemed to be warming to the notion of another roundabout in Snowmass when they reviewed a pared-down design in February and directed staff to move forward with more design updates. Getting to the “next level” in the design to determine a cost estimate for the project down the line could cost around $550,000 in 2022, Town Manager Clint Kinney told council last week.
Even so, some members at last week’s meeting indicated that they weren’t wholeheartedly on board yet. Councilmen Bob Sirkus and Tom Goode, both of whom voted against a full-sized roundabout design in 2019, as well as Councilman Tom Fridstein, who was not on the council in 2019, expressed trepidation about allocating more than half a million dollars toward the designs for a project that hasn’t been fully approved.
Prioritizing in Town Park
Council approved the master plan for a Town Park redesign back in March, giving the thumbs up to move forward on a project nearly two decades in the making.
That plan included potential phasing for the effort to beautify the entryway to Snowmass Village and bolster the amenities and multi-use recreational spaces in Town Park, but Sirkus said last week he wants more information on prioritization before giving the thumbs up on a proposed $3.7 million in work in 2022.
Also, space, dimensions and infrastructure at the rodeo grounds — a major component of the overall project — have been an ongoing sticking point in review even after the master plan was approved.
Planners have communicated with the Snowmass Western Heritage Association to discuss the rodeo grounds, but there has not been much presence from the group, which organizes the rodeo, in recent public Town Council meetings about Town Park this summer and fall.
That could change Monday night; an agenda summary for the work session discussion indicates that members of the rodeo board will present a design for the grounds that they’ve developed.
Connecting the village with fiber optic cable
Town Council already approved the installation of nearly 48,000 feet of fiber optic cable and conduit between Highway 82 and Snowmass Village to provide high-speed internet to the town’s major facilities along Brush Creek, Owl Creek and Highline Road. That work is underway and likely to be completed by the end of the year.
The 2022 budget allocates $1 million to extend that network even further into town toward the Snowmass Mall and Base Village; the extension could help serve town facilities like the parking office and housing office as well as “anchor institutions” like the fire station and the Little Red Schoolhouse.
Reviving the Ice Age Discovery Center
Mayor Bill Madsen has long been a vocal proponent for a revival of the Snowmass Ice Age Discovery Center; it was even a tenet of his mayoral campaign in 2020. The center could be a central hub for all things Ice Age in Snowmass Village, where excavation near Ziegler Reservoir unearthed a treasure trove of fossils about a decade ago.
A discovery center was previously located on the Snowmass Mall and at one point was positioned to relocate to Base Village; a proposal drafted in 2018 outlines the conceptual framework for an expansive exhibit, but there is no current home for prehistoric education in the town. The 2022 budget doesn’t include any allocations for such a center, but Madsen said at last week’s initial budget review that he would like to put the concept back on the town’s radar.
Boosting biker safety on Highline Road
Highline Road, which connects Owl Creek Road and Brush Creek Road, is one of the few main arteries in Snowmass VIllage that has neither a bike lane nor an adjacent bike path for road cyclists. (Mountain bikers and pedestrians can still stay off the road by riding a Sky Mountain Park trail that parallels the road.)
Conversations about cyclist safety on the road have cropped up repeatedly in council meetings over the years, but there have not been any official votes to implement new infrastructure there, and there aren’t currently funds allocated for the project in 2022. Councilman Sirkus requested that it be added to the discussion during budget review; an agenda summary for Monday’s meeting indicates that widening the shoulder of the road would likely total $200,000.
The Aspen Ambulance District seeks a property-tax increase to keep up its level of service, and the Pitkin County commissioners showed initial willingness this week to put the question on the Nov. 8 ballot.
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