Study: Extending Aspen Mountain’s Lift 1A closer to town has 2 possible options
To read the complete study or a shorter version, click here for the Aspen City County work session.
Public open house scheduled at Aspen City Hall from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday.
There are two feasible ways that a replacement of Lift 1A could be extended farther down the base of Aspen Mountain toward Dean Street, according to a consultant for the city of Aspen.
The SE Group said it looked at nine scenarios and ruled out all but two of them. The remaining scenarios are feasible and should be looked at in greater detail, according to the lift assessment study released to the public Friday.
The City Council sought the study while reviewing the Gorsuch Haus hotel proposal earlier this year. A large faction of the community wants the bottom terminal of the chairlift moved farther down the slope than what the Gorsuch team proposed in its application, and farther down than the existing chairlift.
There will be a public open house held at Aspen City Hall from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday, and the study will be presented Monday evening to the Aspen City Council.
“The final report outlines two scenarios that may warrant further study,” said a memo by the city planning department. “Staff would like to gauge council’s interest in moving forward with the results of the study, assuming other landowners are also interested.”
The option labeled scenario one would place the bottom terminal of the chairlift south of what’s known as the Dolinsek property — land that was gifted to the city with restrictions on uses. No chairlifts or other permanent ski infrastructure can be placed on the property, but skiers can cross it, according to the city.
The bottom lift terminal would be roughly 250 feet closer to the proposed Dean Street public transit drop-off than the lift location currently proposed as part of the Gorsuch Haus hotel plan. However, the terminal would still be about 350 feet south of Dean Street.
Skier on-mountain access would be achieved by extending the Schuss Gully ski run 250 feet downslope.
Those arriving from off mountain at the Dean Street public transit stop would be required to walk about 350 feet in length over a vertical climb of 50 feet. Skiers walking to the lift would use the existing South Aspen Street sidewalk, a new walking path through Willoughby and Lift 1 parks or a combination of the two.
The study said, “Skier circulation is not significantly compromised by this scenario, but milling space at the lift maze would be quite constrained.”
The alignment likely would require the relocation of the upper tower of historic Lift 1. There are three towers and the lower terminal infrastructure of the original Aspen chairlift remaining in place for their historical significance.
An even bigger impact is the need for the relocation or elimination of the eastern building of the Lift One Lodge — a development that has been approved but hasn’t been built.
Among the advantages of the scenario are moving the base terminal closer to Dean Street, the study said. Nevertheless, it would still require a 350-foot walk from the public-transit site, with a 50-foot elevation difference.
“It is likely that the vertical climbing would deter some guests from viewing this as a desirable access onto Aspen Mountain,” the study said.
The close proximity of the lift terminal and ski run to Lift One Lodge will create “a confined situation that could feel uncomfortable,” the study continued.
Plus, it’s unlikely the lodge will want to move or eliminate one of its proposed buildings.
The other option deemed workable and worthy of further consideration was scenario seven, which would move the bottom terminal even closer to Dean Street. The terminal would be placed just south of the historic Lift 1 bottom terminal structure.
The alignment of the entire lift would be shifted slightly west, skirting the west edge of the Dolinsek property. However, the property would be used as access for skiers coming down the hill. No infrastructure would be added to the property, which is a requirement of the land gift.
Access from the mountain would be on a 550-foot extension of Schuss Gully run. Skiers arriving at the Dean Street public-transit stop would have to walk about 100 feet in length with just a 10-foot vertical rise, according to the study.
The proposal would not interfere with the Lift One Lodge buildings.
“The close proximity of the Lift 1A bottom terminal to the proposed Dean Street drop-off location would cause the new drop-off and extended lift to be an attractive portal onto Aspen Mountain from the Aspen core area,” the study said.
However, the option would have a major impact on historic structures. The upper tower of Lift 1 would have to be moved and the proposed Aspen Historical Society Ski Museum building would have to be removed or relocated.
The city planning staff’s memo said using Lift One Park likely would trigger a public vote.
The memo also noted that further study would be required on the feasibility of either option.
“Of the two solutions that are likely possible, is there support for one or both of the options to be studied further?” the planning staff asked in the memo.
The answer is likely coming Monday.
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The steep Jail Trail that leads into downtown Aspen is getting a better grade to address safety concerns and make it easier for people to use.