Sundeck puts Skico in hot seat |

Sundeck puts Skico in hot seat

Jeremy Heiman

Aspen Skiing Co. officials endured the Pitkin County equivalent of a trip to the principal’s office Tuesday.

County commissioners scolded Skico personnel for failing to adhere to a construction-management plan approved less than two weeks ago for the construction of a new Sundeck Restaurant atop Aspen Mountain. The commissioners threatened to red tag the project – ordering work to halt – if further violations occur.

Complaints from Little Annie homeowners included construction- material delivery trucks hitting the road at 7:30 a.m., though it is only supposed to be used from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and use of a noisy “jake brake” (engine brake) by truck drivers, which are only supposed to be used in an emergency. Trucks have also exceeded the 10 mph speed limit imposed in the plan as they travel Little Annie Road to the construction site.

There were also complaints that the road was improved to a greater extent than agreed upon. Residents and Pitkin County want the road to remain primitive after the project to discourage too much use.

And Commissioner Mick Ireland said demolition began on the old building before a permit was issued, noting that walls had been knocked down. Ireland told Skico officials that the county’s building department is authorized to issue red tags without first consulting commissioners, and warned that the red tag would remain until the board gets a chance to meet and review an appeal.

Skico planner Bill Kane apologized profusely for the violations. “This is not something we are proud of,” Kane said. “This was not done maliciously or to flaunt the agreements we made.”

But Kane said the work done on the building was deconstruction, not demolition, and involved disassembly of the building in an effort to salvage such things as fixtures and beams.

Gert Van Moorsel, the Skico’s construction manager, said the company has notified two drivers of speeding violations already.

Little Annie homeowner Randy Gold complained that the alternate route, Summer Road, on the face of the ski area, won’t be open for another six to eight weeks, putting all construction traffic on the backside of the mountain until then. Much of the traffic so far has been outside of the permitted hours, he said.

“I have the feeling the next meeting will be a hearing on a red tag, if we don’t clear this up now,” Ireland said.

Chuck Apostolik, foreman for Shaw Construction, said foremen for subcontractors have to come and go from the job site during the day because they oversee work at other job sites.

When Ireland asked why they would want to drive for an hour to reach the site when they could get there in 15 minutes in the gondola, Apostolik replied that the gondola won’t be running all day after ski season, just in the morning and evening.

Ireland persisted, saying the gondola is much quicker and more efficient. Board Chairwoman Leslie Lamont agreed that the gondola is the best solution.

“One of the reasons we allowed a 23,000-square-foot building on edge of the wilderness,” Lamont said, referring to the new Sundeck, “is we have a gondola that gets people there.”

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