Town Council whittles down cost overruns | AspenTimes.com
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Town Council whittles down cost overruns

Chad Abraham

The Snowmass Village Town Council voted informally Monday night to shave $210,000 in cost overruns from the Entryway project near the rodeo lot on Brush Creek Road.The project involves a roundabout at the intersection of Brush Creek and Highline roads, employee housing, a pool and fitness center, and a new park-and-ride stop.In early March, the council learned that the lowest bid for the project was $1.4 million more than what the town had allocated. Town staff recommended a series of changes to the plan. The council was resistant to most of the suggestions, however, but accepted one and deferred to the staff’s recommendation on others.The town could have saved about $1 million on the project’s price tag had the council accepted all the changes. But Councilman John Wilkinson said the goal is to have the Entryway “make a statement to the people who live here and visit here.””Now is the time to do it right,” he said. “This is what the town needs.”Cost overruns have plagued the Entryway project. A staff memo to the council says the project’s cost has increased 23 percent since 2004 estimates.The balance from a real estate transfer tax is enough to cover the extra costs, the memo says.”This is what RETT funds are supposed to do,” Wilkinson said.But Mel Blumenthal of Snowmass Village warned the council against using the RETT revenue.”We’ve got this pot of gold and we’re going to just use it up,” he said. “That pot of gold is not going to continue to grow.”Councilman Arnie Mordkin suggested that Hurricane Katrina was responsible for the project’s cost overruns. The best course of action could be to wait a year or longer, when construction costs may drop back to meet the orignal projections, he said.”You just don’t build a half-assed project,” Mordkin said.But Mayor Doug Mercatoris and Councilwoman Sally Sparhawk questioned that line of reasoning. Both said it would likely be more expensive to construct the Entryway in the future.”Do it today,” Mercatoris said.The council voted unanimously to keep the planned infrastructure for a road platform and to keep center islands on Brush Creek Road that will be landscaped to break up the asphalt. The entire council also voted to keep a rock face on a planned pedestrian underpass.The council split 3-2 on the road shoulders, with the majority voting to leave them unpaved. Four council members outvoted Wilkinson in deciding to stick with the plan to pave the rodeo parking lot.Decisions on removing some acceleration and deceleration lanes and other miscellaneous costs were left up to staff.Chad Abraham’s e-mail address is chad@aspentimes.com


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