S’mass Town Council recap: Town to pursue “Option 5” design for mall transit center; council approves flavored tobacco sale ban; new public art
In the course of a two-hour regular meeting Nov. 18, Town Council approved the second reading of the local flavored tobacco products sale ban; gave the OK for the Snowmass Arts Advisory Board to bring a public art piece out of storage and on display near Base Village and to start evaluating the best place for a new donated outdoor sculpture; and agreed with the town staff decision to pursue another conceptual design plan for the proposed mall transit center. Here’s the recap:
council picks option 5 for TRANSIT CENTER
Council gave the OK for town staff to pursue an alternate conceptual design plan for the proposed mall transit center.
The motivation of David Peckler, town transportation director, and Clint Kinney, town manager, to continue studying alternative designs with S.E.H. consultants stemmed from council’s recent reservations about the mass and scale of the current Village Mall transit center plan.
“There was a unanimous vote to move forward with Option 4 but we certainly heard the concerns and hesitation the council had and knowing the next step requires spending $700,000 in design, we didn’t want to go forward with the design if it didn’t have a strong level of support,” Kinney explained to council.
Town Council expressed reservations, including specific concerns with the size of the bus platform, height of the proposed two-story structure, and the routing of Carriage Way beneath the bus platform, after going on a site visit Oct. 7 and continuing discussion right after.
During the post-site visit discussion, council tasked Peckler and Kinney with drafting a set of criteria to help guide the continued design of the proposed transit center, which they presented at the Nov. 18 meeting.
The 16 bullet-pointed elements were a mix of those implemented in the current design, known as Option 4, and of additional elements in response to council discussions that would further guide a new Option 5 design.
The Option 4 design includes a single bus platform at the mall level with four Roaring Fork Transportation Authority bus bays, and six local shuttle bus bays, along with a roughly 60-space parking area and roadway below the bus platform that will replace the existing Lot 6. It is estimated to cost $8.7 million, with the majority of the money going toward the parking area, as previously reported.
Option 5 would look at shrinking the height of the transit center and the size of the bus platform, or deck, keeping flat, fluid pedestrian access to the mall and the overall price as close to $8 million as possible.
Town Council agreed with continuing conceptual design work and coming up with an Option 5 rendering, which Peckler and Kinney said will be brought back to council for further review and discussion as soon as it’s completed.
COUNCIL OKS second READING OF FLAVORED TOBACCO BAN
Town Council approved the second reading of the ordinance banning the sale of flavored tobacco products, including cigarettes, cigars, little cigars, chewing tobacco, pipe tobacco, snuff, mints and electronic smoking devices.
The 3-1 decision came after discussing through some of the ordinance language and hearing from Tilly Swanson, a junior at Aspen High School, on the local prevalence of flavored vape use among teens.
“It really is a pressing issue in my high school and high schools all over the valley,” Swanson said to Town Council.
When asked how many of her peers vape and why they do it, Swanson said she believes at least 60% of her classmates are using the electronic tobacco products, mainly flavored Juuls, and that it has become a social conduit.
“It can get you into more popular groups, it can help you make new friends, so there’s definitely a social aspect to it,” Swanson said of vaping. “We have a lot of kids who are not be able to go very long without it.”
As the Snowmass ordinance banning flavored tobacco states, flavored tobacco products have been shown to promote tobacco use by teens by masking the natural harshness and taste of the addictive substance.
At the Nov. 4 meeting, Town Council approved the first reading of the ban with a 3-2 vote. Councilmembers Tom Goode and Bob Sirkus voted against the ordinance after expressing that it was a government overreach and there was a need for evidence on how tobacco bans already in place work before approving a new one.
Sirkus echoed some of those thoughts Nov. 18, stating that the problem should be addressed at the national and state level first since it is on a national scale.
“I agree that there are a lot of problems with flavored tobacco products, but I don’t think this ordinance is the correct way to approach the problem,” Sirkus said. “As long as other jurisdictions allow (using flavored tobacco products), we can’t get a handle on this.”
Sirkus voted against the ordinance. Mayor Markey Butler, Councilwoman Alyssa Shenk and Councilman Bill Madsen voted for the ordinance. Councilman Tom Goode was absent.
The flavored tobacco product sale ban is set to go into effect for Snowmass businesses at the start of 2020.
NEW PUBLIC ART APPROVED, ACCEPTED FOR VILLAGE
Town Council approved the relocation of a public art piece currently in storage and accepted an outdoor sculpture donated to the town.
After two back-to-back presentations by the Snowmass Arts Advisory Board with little discussion, council members gave the OK for board members to dust off the “Peaks,” a series of triangular ceramic pieces created by Barbara Sorensen that were displayed in the former Silver Tree Conference Center, and relocate it from storage to the Wood Road Bridge area near the mini roundabout and adjacent to Base Village. The pieces will be mounted on a wall opposite the walking trail, board members explained, protecting it from vandalism.
The council also accepted a tall, plant-like outdoor sculpture donated to the town by a former resident and created by George Sherwood, a sculptor known for his kinetic and environmental work, arts advisory board members said.
The board intends to return to council with a proposed location for the donated piece and ask for approval of both the installation and related cost, which could be between $5,000 and $10,000, according to town documents.
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