Snowmass looks at ways to make town more green
December 1, 2015
The town of Snowmass Village is looking at ways to become more energy-efficient, including encouraging the use of reusable shopping bags over plastic.
The town adopted a Sustainability Plan in 2009, and on Monday, the volunteer Environmental Advisory Board made a presentation to the Town Council on its progress implementing the plan to date. The board found that the town is meeting or pursuing about 80 percent of its goals, and recommended some "next steps," including moving forward with a snowmelt energy efficiency project proposed in May.
The snowmelt system, which keeps the steep pavement on Carriage Way clear during the winter, and the town's facilities were found this year to be the areas with the most room to improve efficiency-wise, and town staff members determined snowmelt improvements would have the "biggest payoff," said Anne Martens, public works director, during Monday's meeting.
Design work for improvements to the system has been included in the 2016 budget, but funding for the actual project still needs to be worked out, Martens said.
Other recommendations include working with Snowmass Tourism to make special events more environmentally friendly, updating the town's carbon emission inventory — something other area municipalities are also doing — and reviewing the town's land-use code.
Another "next step" it will begin researching is how to reduce villagers' use of plastic bags, a goal Councilwoman Alyssa Shenk has favored and requested the council specifically consider.
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"I get that we're a tourist town and our guests don't travel with their reusable bags," she said, but bags could be made more available to visitors, for instance by offering them at condos, hotels and local businesses.
She added that Tom Clark, president of Clark's Markets, was open to discussing how the grocery's Snowmass locations could help. Clark's Market in Aspen no longer carries plastic bags since the passage of a ban in 2011.
An advisory question asking Snowmass Village voters whether they favored some kind of policy on the use of bags failed by a narrow margin in 2012. Sally Sparhawk, Environmental Advisory Board member, said making it easier for people to voluntarily use bags might be more successful than a policy change.
"If you put a fee on it then it's a big huge brouhaha," Sparhawk said. "If we do some of the things you're suggesting, that's easier, it just needs some cash to get the bags."
The council charged the board with mapping out a plan for reducing plastic bag use.
"I definitely think it's time to revisit it," Shenk said. "I think people are getting more used to reusable bags. There are definitely ways we could make reusable bags more accessible."
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