Trolleys still taking up city’s time
December 17, 2002
Local trolley backers want Aspen’s remaining trolleys sold to the highest bidder, but the City Council voiced no interest Monday in backing away from its plan to give the cars away.
The trolleys have become a regular topic of discussion during the public comment period at council meetings. Last night, Mayor Helen Klanderud pleaded with trolley supporters to let it drop.
“I don’t think that is a good use of your time, our time or the community’s time,” she said, reiterating her willingness to meet with the trolley group outside the council forum.
Klanderud suggested the trolley group choose one spokesperson to address the council Monday.
Aspenite Ramona Markalunas read a resolution calling on the council to sell the cars through a sealed bid process monitored by an impartial third party and distributing the proceeds to local nonprofits.
Since the Aspen Street Railway Co. wishes “closure” on the issue, the members guaranteed as part of the resolution not to bring the issue up again before the presently seated council. (The present makeup of the council could change as soon as the May 2003 election.)
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“I don’t feel the trolley people were treated fairly. I hope you do the right thing,” Markalunas said.
“We have done what we believe is the right thing. We would like closure on this as well,” Klanderud responded.
The city is giving its six trolleys to three communities that have made commitments to put them to use on a trolley line. One has already been taken away. Last month, Aspen voters rejected a proposal to put them to use here.
“You think 46 percent of the people who voted for it can be ignored?” asked Councilman Terry Paulson, who opposes giving away the trolleys.
He indicated the trolley debate is not yet over, and citizen Toni Kronberg proved his point by trying to bring it up when she approached the council to comment.
Klanderud cut her off, and Kronberg appealed to City Attorney John Worcester for an interpretation on her right to speak.
“She [the mayor] can limit comment any way she sees fit,” Worcester said. “In essence, she’s in charge of running the meeting.”
“I have a great deal of a problem with a council that continually bullies the citizens,” said Paulson after Klanderud called an end to the trolley debate and told citizens awaiting discussion of an Entrance to Aspen issue that they’d have to wait until it came up at the end of the agenda.
“If we were truly bullies, the trolleys would have been gone a year ago and the entrance wouldn’t have been on the ballot.” Councilman Tim Semrau responded.
[Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is email@example.com]