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Your Evening News - January 23rd, 2015

Jan 23, 2015

Hunt Answers Aspen Questions at Sold Out Event

Downtown developer Mark Hunt made his first public appearance last night, aside from city public hearings, in front of an audience of nearly one-hundred concerned residents. They peppered him with questions, curious about the man that controls 15 buildings in the commercial core. Members of the business community, long time local residents, and newcomers sipped wine at BB’s Kitchen in downtown Aspen. They asked about Hunt's intentions for his real estate portfolio. In a mostly jovial environment, attendees also asked about how Hunt’s plans could change the character of this historic town.

A recent transplant from Chicago, Hunt said he is not in Aspen to ruin the town, but to enhance it. He proposes to do that through new development at some properties and what he characterized as “spit shining” other ones. Hunt explained some aspects behind his affordable lodge project on Cooper Avenue across from city market. He believes that providing public amenities like an underground bowling alley is better than parking spaces. And that’s why he’s asking for exceptions from the City of Aspen land use code.

Aspen Public Radio learned yesterday that Hunt wants to separate out a second affordable lodge. The two had been proposed simultaneously.

“Well, listen, first of all I’m not pulling it. I’m putting it on ice so to speak. You know, listen, I got excited. I’m out there trying to be part of the solution of providing additional beds and affordability, designing something for the next gen and you know, quite frankly I think that putting both out there was too much.”

Hunt is scheduled to go before City Council on Monday to ask for that extension. Council is expected to also review the Cooper Avenue lodge proposal.

Welcome to Valley Roundup, a review of the top news stories in the valley in the past week.

This week Aspen Public Radio News Director Carolyn Sackariason hosts the show.

There’s a dust up down valley between the bus service and local officials over the Rio Grande Trail.

An elementary school in Carbondale is looking for a new principal after she put in her resignation half-way through the year.

Should Aspen votes be asked to approve every piece of development in the city?

Meanwhile, Mark Hunt goes directly to Aspen citizens about his development plans.

Your Morning News - January 23rd, 2015

Jan 23, 2015

Pitkin County Cites a Drone Pilot

Law enforcement in Pitkin County responded to their first ever-incident yesterday of drones being flown in an area where they’re not allowed.

Two people were flying a drone near the Winter X Games venue around 3:30 in the afternoon. The drone was within the general flight path of the Aspen/Pitkin County Airport, which is illegal. The operator of the drone was charged with reckless endangerment and the drone was confiscated.

Meanwhile, ESPN was granted special permission by the FAA to fly drones for the X Games in a specified area, away from spectators.

Marci Krivonen

The head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency told a small crowd in Aspen Thursday that action on climate change is needed now. Administrator Gina McCarthy timed her visit with the Winter X Games, to reach a younger crowd.

McCarthy’s visit was in conjunction with Protect Our Winters, a climate change advocacy group led by snow sports athletes. Standing next to the ski gondola, McCarthy emphasized how action on climate change is critical to economies like Aspen’s.

Your Evening News - January 22nd, 2015

Jan 22, 2015

Mark Hunt to put “Base 2” Plans “On Ice”

Developer Mark Hunt is asking Aspen City Council to extend the review of his affordable lodge proposal on Main Street until at least March 9. Hunt will go before council on Monday, when elected officials were set to review his two lodge applications. But in somewhat of a surprise move, Hunt has separated out what’s known as Base 2. What will be left is Base 1, another affordable lodge proposal on Cooper Avenue. Hunt says his decision to delay Base 2 is to see if Base 1 can stand on its own merits and is ultimately what the community wants.

“Well, listen, first of all I’m not pulling it. I’m putting it on ice so to speak. You know, listen, I got excited. I’m out there trying to be part of the solution of providing additional beds and affordability, designing something for the next gen and you know, quite frankly I think that putting both out there was too much.”

Hunt will hold a question-and-answer session with community members at BB’s Kitchen tonight. The event is hosted by Aspen Business Events, an offshoot of the Aspen Business Luncheon. The 5 p.m. gathering sold out the day it was announced earlier this week and was expanded to include close to 70 people.

Good afternoon and welcome to Mountain Edition.

The Winter X Games are once again in the Upper Roaring Fork Valley.

Officials try to shed light on a lack of childcare in our region.

A major landowner in Aspen is asking elected leaders for an extension for one of his development proposals.

Aspen’s Police Chief reports back from a statewide conference about pot and public safety

And a troubled Carbondale elementary school will need a new principal next year.

Officials in Garfield County get an update on an oil and gas study.

And doctors in Glenwood Springs are lending a hand with radon testing.

Aspen’s mayor heads to Washington.

And we stop by a long running nordic ski area in the Mid Valley.

Your Morning News - January 22nd, 2015

Jan 22, 2015

Garfield County Air Study at Midpoint

An ongoing study measuring air emissions from natural gas operations in Garfield County is about half complete.

Doctor Jeff Collett of Colorado State University delivered an update to the Garfield County Commissioners Tuesday. The County and “industry partners” are funding the $1.8 million study. Field work started in 2013. Researchers are working with companies like WPX and Encana to measure emissions from drilling, fracking and flow-back operations.

So far, Collett says the study has produced 16 successful experiments that are being analyzed. There have been challenges.

“The amount of new wells going in has decreased with the decrease in the price of natural gas. And some constraints in terms of site suitability. A lot of the development of new wells now happens at topographically complex sites. So these have slowed measurements a bit over what we would have opened.”

Collett hopes to produce a total of 24 successful experiments by the end of 2015, when the study is slated to be complete.

Elise Thatcher

  The X Games have officially begun, with the Women’s Ski SuperPipe Final Wednesday night at Buttermilk. When it comes to new events, there will be a Special Olympics giant slalom race, as well as a gaming center where people attending the event can compete for prizes and their own X Games Medals. This weekend will also have a wider array of events for disabled athletes than in the past. Overall at least three Aspen-area hometown favorites will be gunning for gold. Aspen Public Radio’s Elise Thatcher was at a press conference with the athletes yesterday, and files this report.

Your Evening News - January 21st, 2015

Jan 21, 2015

Aspen Reviewing Powerhouse Plans

The five finalists to fill a city owned building in Aspen will find out in March whether they’ve been chosen. The City is in its final stretch of its process to find a tenant for the Old Power House.

The finalists for the space include a brewery, a science center, a media “powerhouse,” a performance and event center and a proposal called “The Gathering Place.”

Right now, the groups are answering a series of questions such as how they would use the building, whether it’ll create center of community and if there’s a market for the services offered. Assistant City Manager Barry Crook says City Council prioritized the criteria.

“How would you produce a memory making experience that would have a visitor relating their visit to others in an enthusiastic way? Why is this location necessary to your plan? How would you activate the grounds, integrate it with the existing trail system and the river?”

The previous tenant, the Aspen Art Museum, paid just a dollar a year in rent. City Council hasn’t decided whether a new tenant will be charged the same price. Council is scheduled to choose a new tenant by the end of March.

Rios to Rivers

Weston Boyles, Executive Director of Rios to Rivers

Ríos to Rivers is uniting young kayakers from Patagonia, Chile and Colorado with kayaking expeditions in Chile on the Río Baker and in the US on the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. The Chilean kayakers will see for the first time a mega-dam and the resultant impacts on the river. US students will experience the majesty of an undeveloped river flowing through a pristine wilderness. The group will learn about the ecological impacts of dams, explore viable renewable energy sources, and take part in cultural exchange.

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