Aspen City Council

The city sales tax report for 2014 is in. It appears the Aspen economy has more than rebounded. Aspen Public Radio’s Carolyn Sackariason reports.

People in Aspen shopped more, drank more, ate more and consumed pot more in 2014 than the previous year.

That’s according a recently-released sales tax consumption report, which shows economic activity within the city of Aspen last year is up 10 percent over 2013. That amounts to nearly $624 million in commerce.

Your Morning News - February 4th, 2015

Feb 4, 2015

Spring Elections Starting to Ramp Up

Municipal election campaigns in towns on both ends of the valley are in full swing. In Aspen, yesterday marked the beginning of election season. It was the first time nominating petitions could be picked up by potential candidates. They need 25 signatures from registered city voters to make the ballot.

As of 5 p.m. yesterday, only city planning and zoning commissioner Keith Goode had picked up a petition. He will run to fill one of two City Council seats that are open. They are currently held by Adam Frisch and Dwayne Romero. The mayor’s seat, held by Steve Skadron, is also up for grabs. Frisch and Skadron have said they plan to run. Romero is still considering it.

Aspen City Clerk Linda Manning explains why the dates for submitting petitions changed this election.

“The nominating petition period has been extended to longer than what is normally expected. In the past elections, potential candidates wouldn’t pick up their nominating petitions until April. For this election, because it is a mail ballot election, all of the dates get pushed forward. So the nominating petitions starts today, Feburary 3, and at council’s direction, will be extended until March 9.”

In Glenwood Springs, the ballot has been finalized for this spring’s election. It includes eight candidates. Two out of four open seats will be contested. Planning and Zoning Commission Chairwoman Kathy Trauger, former Aspen Councilman Tony Hershey and West Glenwood resident Kathy Williams have declared their candidacy for the at-large seat. In addition, there will be a three-way race for the Midland Ward 1 seat currently held by Ted Edmonds, who is running for re-election. He is being challenged by Steve Davis and Rus Arensman.

The other two seats that are up, in Wards 3 and 4, look to be uncontested. The incumbents are Todd Leahy and Mike Gamba.

The election in Glenwood Springs will be held April 7th. In Aspen, ballots will be counted on May 5.

Your Evening News - February 3rd, 2015

Feb 3, 2015

Lance Armstrong Cited for Hitting Parked Cars

A former pro cyclist is expected in court soon following two tickets issued for allegedly hitting two parked cars on Aspen’s west end in December, leaving the scene and trying to get his girlfriend to take the rap. The Aspen Police Department says Lance Armstrong concocted the story because he didn’t want to attract media attention. Anna Hansen is not expected to be charged after recanting her false statements to police. The Aspen Daily News reports Armstrong has hired Denver attorney Pamela Mackey. She represented NBA star Kobe Bryant in the 2003-04 sexual assault case he was facing in Eagle County. Armstrong has not spoken to authorities about the incident. It happened after he attended a party at the St. Regis, where he reportedly consumed alcohol.  Armstrong is expected in court on March 17th.

Your Morning News - February 3rd, 2015

Feb 3, 2015

Aspen Talks Health & Human Services Funding

Aspen City Council continued a conversation last night about funding health and human service organizations. Right now, the City doles out $400,000 annually to various charities.

The council’s conversation centered around whether additional dollars should be pulled from another pot of money and if the method currently used for choosing worthy organizations should continue. Right now Pitkin County decides where the money goes.

Mayor Steve Skadron suggested pulling additional dollars from a tax dedicated to the Wheeler Opera House.

“This is how I think it should go: should new incremental money come into our pool of contributions, I believe that money should have a focused outcome. I think the focus should be on uniquely Aspen problems.”

He’d like to support seniors in need, substance abuse, mental health and suicide. The conversation will continue later this month, when councilman Dwayne Romero is present.

Your Morning News - January 30th, 2015

Jan 30, 2015

Garfield County to Online Auction Surplus

Garfield County hopes to make some extra cash from surplus equipment like cars or furniturde. The County is in its first round of an online auction for no-longer needed items. Chief Procurement Officer Jamaica Watts explains that Eagle County and other comparable governments are already using the service.

“The public can go on and register, they can put in bids, they can put in proxy bids. We can actually watch it in real time and know what’s going on. It’s kind of like eBay.”

Garfield County can also make sure the price doesn’t go below what the items are valued at. Officials believe this will be more affordable, effective and transparent than the previous method of storing items for long periods of time, and selling at a regular auction.

Setting it up online is technically free, but does require staff time. Buyers also pay an additional 10% of the price to the County. Garfield County is in the middle of its first auction. Watts says the response has been bigger than expected, so far, with multiple bids for several vehicles.

Your Evening News - January 29th, 2015

Jan 29, 2015

Frisch Seeks Re-Election to Aspen Council

Adam Frisch announced yesterday that he plans to run for re-election this spring for a city council seat. Frisch, who is 47, first ran for the four-year term in 2009. He lost that election but won in 2011, garnering more than 45 percent of the vote. Nominating petitions, which require 25 signatures for a candidate to make the ballot, are available beginning Tuesday. Former housing director Tom McCabe also has announced his candidacy for a council seat. Current mayor Steve Skadron and former councilman Torre have said they plan to run for the two-year term. The election is May 5.

Mountain Edition - January 29th, 2015

Jan 29, 2015

Welcome to Mountain Edition.

Warm temperatures are boosting river levels and disappointing skiers. We’ll tell you what’s ahead in the forecast.

Low oil and gas prices are good for consumers but tough on companies drilling in Western Colorado.

Despite an oil and gas slowdown, a new analysis shows hundreds of spills are still being reported.

Aspen residents are gathering signatures to get a measure on the ballot that would require voter-approval of some development projects.

Your Morning News - January 29th, 2015

Jan 29, 2015

Petition to Control Aspen Development Gaining Signers

A group of Aspen residents gathered at a private home last night to sign a petition about controlling development in town. If it gets enough signatures approved, the proposal would go on the May ballot. It would require voter approval on any new development that doesn’t follow the land use code. Participant Doug Wilson explained why he believes it’s a good idea to keep exceptions to a minimum.

“In the late 1960’s and early 1970’s we worked really hard to come up with the building code that we have today, and it’s made the town retain so much of it’s delicious nature and I’d like to maintain that in the future.”

Wilson is one of a small army of people gathering signatures around town to support the ballot measure. As of last night, they had about five hundred. Bert Myrin worked with about 10 people to put together the proposal. While hosting last night’s event, he said preventing exceptions would level the playing field for developers and residents.

“It’ll create a less divisive community, because everyone will know what the expectations are for the size of the box and the impact it’s going to have on the neighborhood.”

If it’s up to voters to focus on exceptions, Myrin believes that allow City Council to focus on other important issues.

Organizers hope to submit a thousand signatures next Tuesday. Election officials require about three hundred to put a measure on the ballot.

In response to the proposal, Aspen’s City Council is looking at whether to change the land use code before the election. Mayor Steve Skadron said in a heated discussion Monday that he opposes having voters decide what development is appropriate in town.

Your Evening News - January 26th, 2015

Jan 26, 2015

Sick Mountain Lion Put Down in Carbondale

The Carbondale Police Department says it put down a sick mountain lion this past weekend. The department says it received a call that the big cat was lying under the bridge on North Bridge Drive on Saturday afternoon. The Tom Cat was about a year or two old and could only move its head. After contacting the Division of Wildlife, the cat was put down. The mountain lion was not believed to be suffering from a communicable illness. It was mangy, malnourished and had sores over its body. The Carbondale Police say the cat could have been hit by car. The department reminds motorists that if they hit an animal in an accident, they should notify their local police.

Mark Hunt's Proposal to the Aspen City Council

Downtown Aspen developer Mark Hunt will go before City Council tonight to take one of his affordable lodge proposals off the table for at least a month. Hunt will also ask for approval to build the other. Aspen Public Radio's Carolyn Sackariason has more.
 

Last week, Hunt held a question-and-answer session and was met with a fairly warm reception on his lodge plans. Tonight, it may be a bit cooler. Some council members are critical of the exceptions Hunt is asking for in order to build the lodge on Cooper Avenue. He is seeking relief from the city of Aspen’s land use code to take parking off site.

Your Morning News - January 26th, 2015

Jan 26, 2015

2015 Winter X Games in the Record Books

The 19th annual Winter X Games in Aspen wrapped up yesterday. Event owner and organizer ESPN reports this last weekend saw the largest single day crowd in the history of the winter games. That was on Saturday when 48,500 spectators packed the base of Buttermilk Mountain over the course of the day.

As for hometown athletes, Aspenite Alex Ferreira medaled, Sunday. The 20 year old freeskier won bronze in the Men’s Ski SuperPipe. Longtime snowboarder and Olympic bronze medalist Chris Klug took home gold this weekend with his Special Olympics teammate.

This winter was the first time the X Games featured a dual giant slalom snowboard race.

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.

Valley Roundup - January 23rd, 2015

Jan 23, 2015

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.

Mountain Edition - January 22nd, 2015

Jan 22, 2015

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 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.

Your Morning News - January 19th, 2015

Jan 19, 2015

First Aspen Council & Mayoral Candidates Announce

The first candidate for an open Aspen City Council seat has emerged.

Former Affordable Housing chief Tom McCabe has confirmed he plans to run for city council in May. McCabe retired as Director of the Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority last October. McCabe says he would bring his expertise on how the city operates and likely focus on housing issues. He served one term on Aspen City Council in the early 2000s.

It is also likely Aspen's Mayoral race will have a challenger in the ballot. Former city councilman Torre told Aspen Public Radio this weekend that his intention is to run in the May election. He plans to formally announce his candidacy next month. It would be Torre's fifth attempt at the Mayor’s office.

Your Evening News - January 16th, 2015

Jan 16, 2015

Explore Booksellers Bought by Non-Profit Group

Aspen’s Explore Booksellers has a new owner. A corporation under the umbrella of the Public Interest Network purchased the historic building and book business for five million dollars. The sale closed earlier today.

The bookstore opened as usual on Friday, but with new owners. Previous owners Sam and Cheryl Wyly listed the property in June. Since then, efforts have formed around preserving the business – Aspen’s only bookstore.

The Public Interest Network stepped in and the sale was finalized Friday. Real estate broker Bob Ritchie represented the buyers.

“Right now they plan to operate it exactly how it’s been operated. They’ve rehired all of the same employees.”

Karen Setterfield is the real estate agent who worked with the sellers.

“I call it a win-win-win. It’s good for the buyer, the seller, it’s good for the community, it’s good for the bookstore and the property and it’s good for Pyramid Bistro, the tenant in the property.”

Ritchie says the new owners plan to bring to Explore interesting speakers and talks, and deepen ties with the Aspen Institute.

stirlingpeak.com

Aspen officials are considering two new affordable lodges in the main part of town. Chicago developer and transplant Mark Hunt is behind them. He gained attention earlier this year for purchasing multiple properties in Aspen, including the historic Crystal Palace.  Some locals have wondered aloud whether it’s a good idea to have one person buying so much property. Aspen Public Radio’s Elise Thatcher files this story on whether it’s happened before-- and the mood now in Aspen about development.

Valley Roundup - December 12th, 2014

Dec 12, 2014

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

This week the White River National Forest released an oil and gas plan. But, does that settle the matter on drilling in the Thompson Divide?

The City of Aspen continues to refine a new lodging incentives ordinance. At the same time, the council is asking the city management to give them better information.

The State of Colorado is not messing around when it comes to regulations and medical pot shops.

Could Aspen’s Little Annie’s return from the grave… again?

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