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Your Morning News - December 19th, 2014

Basalt Reviews Downtown Redevelopment Ideas A committee charged with brainstorming redevelopment ideas for downtown Basalt presented their findings last night. The Downtown Area Advisory Committee met with Town Council, the Planning and Zoning committee and scores of interested citizens. The volunteer committee has been meeting regularly since October, pouring over ideas from the community and a map of downtown Basalt. Basalt is considering redeveloping several key parcels including some riverfront acreage. The committee came up with concepts rather than concrete suggestions. Moderator Paul Anderson says the idea was to explore how the community would feel with a certain level of development. “They took a very broad-brushed look at what Basalt could be and what could bring the most vitality as a result.” Still, the committee did nail down some details including where it would like to see commercial and residential development. On the map, the committee members pinpointed nine areas including a multi-story development where the old Clark’s Market building is standing. “That building, that would be a perfect place for a sub-grade parking structure, or some kind of a focused solution to parking that would centralized, and then on top of that could be a performing arts center, or some kind of civic experience and then surrounded by interesting restaurants, boutiques, breweries and coffee shops.” The committee also prioritized connecting the town to the Roaring Fork and Frying Pan rivers, improving Lion’s Park and allowing density to drive revitalization. Town Council member Bernie Grauer questioned a few proposed changes. “There’s no Wiley annex and there’s no town hall. Where did it go? And, how do we pay for it? That’s a big question in my mind.” On the committee’s map, green space and open plazas replace town hall and the Wiley Arts Center. Committee members reiterated the plan is just an idea and nothing’s set in stone. The Town Council will use the committee’s recommendations when it considers development ideas for the parcels. It will likely serve as a guide for developers interested in pursuing projects downtown. One developer, Lowe Enterprises, is already brainstorming ideas like a boutique hotel for one of the parcels.
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Marci Krivonen

A plan to reconfigure the airfield at the Aspen Airport cleared its latest hurdle on Tuesday. The Board of Pitkin County Commissioners gave initial approval to an “Airport Layout Plan.” Aspen Public Radio's Marci Krivonen reports.

The County will send the preferred plan to the Federal Aviation Administration, which is requiring the airport to make safety improvements. Most of the commercial aircraft that serve the airport are being phased out and their replacements have longer wingspans. So modifications, like a wider runway are needed.

Your Morning News - December 17th, 2014

Dec 17, 2014

Aspen Still Debating Mark Hunt Plans

Aspen planning officials could not come to an agreement last night about whether to recommend a possible new lodge. It's one of two similar lodges proposed by Chicago developer and Aspen transplant Mark Hunt.

The meeting was already a continuation of a discussion earlier this month. Last night, Hunt and planner Mitch Haas presented the proposal again: a three story lodge with rooms under 200 square feet, to fill Aspen’s affordable lodging gap. Called Base 1 it would Include a rooftop terrace and basement amenities like a bowling alley open to all. It would be located across from City Market and Hunt explains why he sees that as a good spot.

“We have our busiest retailer across the street. There’s a gym, there are offices, there are condominium buildings that actually operate like hotels. And yeah, there are residences there. But I think it’s a very eclectic part of Aspen.”

Of about a dozen public comments, the vast majority were in favor of the proposal. But concerns about design and requested exceptions led commissioners to hang up the towel for the evening. Stan Gibbs is Commission Vice Chair, and feels the building does not fit the commercial guidelines for the lot.

“There’s a lot of residential and affordable housing around there, and I think a big building has compatibility issues.”

Hunt and Haas did not comment afterwards, but were visibly frustrated during the meeting. Commissioners will take up the issue again at the beginning of January. A city planner at the meeting last night said the proposal would still be on track to go before City Council later next month. That’s when Council will also consider a similar lodge by Hunt, called Base 2.

Daniel Shaw

Jimmy Ibbotson & Bobby Mason need no introduction to the Valley. Long time Aspen favorites, Ibbotson arrived in the early 1970s with the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and Bobby Mason around the same time with his band Starwood. The duo plays songs, share stories, and even take part in a holiday sing-a-long with friends and listeners live on Aspen Public Radio.

You can catch Bobby Mason & Jimmy Ibbotson in a free concert at the Woody Creek Community Center on Saturday, December 20th at 7pm.

Your Evening News - December 16th, 2014

Dec 16, 2014

Aspen Airport Widening Plan Approved

A plan to reconfigure the airfield at the Aspen Airport cleared its latest hurdle today as the Board of Pitkin County Commissioners gave initial approval to an “Airport Layout Plan.”

The County will send the preferred plan to the Federal Aviation Administration, which is requiring the airport to make safety improvements. As most of the commercial aircraft that serve the airport are being phased out their replacements have longer wingspans. So modifications, like a wider runway is needed.

The county commissioners supported a plan that proposes relocating a portion of Owl Creek Road and using about three acres of City open space. County Manager John Peacock says the plan meets FAA safety requirements and most citizens who weighed in, supported it.

“Based on that feedback, we believe “Alternative 8A,” both for the technical reasons and from the feedback we’ve received from the public is the best alternative to submit.”

The project will undergo an environmental assessment. That will look how the project might impact the natural environment and the resort economy. The preferred alternative has a $132 million price tag. County officials say the FAA will pay the lion’s share.

Your Morning News - December 16th, 2014

Dec 16, 2014

Aspen Planners Consider Mark Hunt Proposal on Lodging

Planning officials in Aspen are considering whether to allow certain exceptions for one of the development projects Mark Hunt is involved with. The Chicago businessman has purchased more than a dozen properties in town in recent years.

The project would be built on Main Street, where a Conoco gas station is now. Aspen’s planning and zoning commission is reviewing a laundry list of exceptions that Hunt is asking for. Aspen Senior planner Sara Adams says one is canceling what’s called impact fees.

“So that comes to a total of about $91,400, roughly, in impact fees.”

Hunt is also requesting a height increase, more than doubling the amount of floor space, eliminating the required two to three affordable housing units while leasing more than twenty parking spaces in the Rio Grande Parking Plaza rather than building more parking for guests.

The proposed building would be three stories tall with a gable roof and a rooftop deck. The rooms would be on the smaller side. Hunt has said the effort is to boost the affordable lodging in Aspen. Again, city planner Sara Adams

“First floor is retail, restaurant, lodge lobby. Second and third floor are all lodge rooms. You know a hundred and seventy to a hundred and eighty square feet, average size, bunk beds.”

In the basement there would be amenities like a bar and a Turkish steam bath. The proposal is goes before the Planning and Zoning Commission tonight. Members will decide what recommendations to make to City Council which will consider the proposal. Another Hunt development that’s very similar will be considered in January.

Creative Commons/Brad Flickinger

The Aspen Community School is one of the top-ranked schools in the state, according to a new analysis. The school near Woody Creek, ranked six out of 500 middle schools.

The organization Colorado School Grades releases its report card annually. Nearly 2000 public schools are ranked. The group uses data from the Colorado Department of Education and a formula that looks at academic achievement, academic growth and gaps in education.

ACS Gets High Marks in State Rankings

The Aspen Community School is one of the top-ranked schools in the state according to a new analysis. The school near Woody Creek ranked 6th out of 500 middle schools. The organization Colorado School Grades releases its report card annually on nearly 2,000 public schools. The group uses data from the Colorado Department of Education and a formula developed at the University of Colorado Denver to come up with its rankings. The formula looks at a school’s academic achievement, academic growth and gaps in education. In 2014, the Aspen Community charter School received an “A-plus” for grades six through eight. Other schools in the Roaring Fork Valley received grades. The Aspen High School scored a “B-plus” and Roaring Fork High School in Carbondale received a “C,” as did Glenwood Springs High School. Bridges High School in Carbondale was one of the lowest scoring high schools in the state. A link for the full list can be found here.

NOTE: Kent Haruf passed away in December 2014.  This interview was recorded in May 2013. 

Kent Haruf’s honors include a Whiting Foundation Award, a Stegner Award, a Frank Waters Award, and a special citation from the PEN/Hemingway Foundation. His novel Plainsong won the Mountains & Plains Booksellers Award and was a finalist for the National Book Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and the New Yorker Book Award. He lives with his wife, Cathy, in his native Colorado.  His most recent novel is Benediction.

In 2002, Robbie Wade passed away from a skateboard accident. He was 19 years old and was an organ donor. His accident profoundly affected his family and the Aspen community. Robbie's father, Bob Wade, speaks about Robbie's decision and the impact his story has had on the community and organ donation awareness. Beth Slater, the Executive Director of the Chris Klug Foundation also contributes.

Learn more about organ donation and the Chris Klug Foundation at www.chrisklugfoundation.org.  

Your Morning News - December 15th, 2014

Dec 15, 2014

Captain Dubois Remembered in Rifle

About 900 people attended the funeral in Rifle yesterday of Air Force Captain William Dubois. The New Castle native died December 1st when his F-16 crashed in Jordan on a mission to attack ISIS targets. The Post Independent reports airplanes from an air force base in Nevada blasted over Rifle High School in a missing man formation to honor the 30-year-old. Dubois was twice named the top fighter pilot in his class. The funeral was held at the high school where Dubois graduated in 2003.

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