Transit center sticker shock: $21 million a bit too much | AspenTimes.com
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Transit center sticker shock: $21 million a bit too much

After recovering from the sticker shock of a $17 to $21 million price tag for a new transit center, the Snowmass Village Town Council looked at ways Tuesday to slash the bottom line in half.

Ideas for a new transit center adjacent to the Snowmass Village Mall have been bandied about since the early 1990s. In its most recent resurrection, engineers were directed to meet a comprehensive list of goals without considering a specified budget.

“We went to the toy store, loaded our baskets then went to the cash register and found out we were 60 percent over our budget,” said Councilman Jack Hatfield.



But exactly what sort of bells and whistles could justify a $21 million estimate bewildered some at yesterday’s discussion.

“Are we trying to make this the intergalactic transit hub of Pitkin County?” asked Bill Burwell, president of The Silvertree Hotel. “We have to get real about this thing.”




Mayor T. Michael Manchester conceded that not capping the scope of the project with a budget was “probably not the smartest thing to do.” But, he added, knowing the costs and cutting from there is not a bad position from which to begin.

“You have to start somewhere. It’s always too big, always too much when you start out. The question is where can we compromise. What works, what doesn’t?” Manchester said.

Whittling the project down to the bare essentials, the council directed the engineers of MK Centennial to see what could be done for $10 to $12 million. Ideally, the center will still add 75 to 100 parking spaces, separate buses and automobiles pulling up to the mall, promote mass transit ridership, retain pedestrian access, consolidate parking, and improve loading and delivery for mall businesses.

Council members are willing to give up a separate building for waiting transit passengers and relocation of Elbert Lane, if necessary. In addition, the council directed MK Centennial to see what could be saved in excavating costs by adding 15 feet to the project’s height.

The revisions will mean a four- to six-week delay. The design work had been scheduled for completion by the end of June.

In the meantime, ways to bring in private-sector dollars will be explored. Selling private parking spaces to individuals and businesses was one suggestion.

Taking a cue from the new private club at the Sundeck, where membership will include a parking space at the Little Nell, Councilman Mark Brady suggested that selling spaces could easily and painlessly rescue the project “from a stripped-down version to one that meets more of our needs.

“A private space program could be our biggest variable,” Brady said. “Thirty to sixty spaces could raise between $4 to $6 million in capital.”

Manchester agreed that getting away from the traditional thinking that “government needs to buy everything” and aggressively seeking ways to generate income from the private sector could make all the difference in how the transit center develops.


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