Aspen Government

Aspen mayoral race: Torre

Apr 27, 2015
Roger Adams

The race for mayor in Aspen has become more heated as election day gets closer. Two people are running for the seat. Ballots will be counted May 5th. Aspen Public Radio’s Marci Krivonen sat down with candidate Torre.

Torre isn’t a newcomer to city politics. He served eight years on council. This is his fifth attempt to become mayor. The tennis instructor has lived in town for two decades and says he’s running because he feels the public’s voice has been lost.

Elise Thatcher

Ballots will be dropped in the mail today for the Aspen municipal election. Aspen Public Radio’s Carolyn Sackariason has the details.

Around 6,100 ballots will be mailed to registered voters. City Clerk Linda Manning hopes to get back less than a third of those--about 2,500. If you haven’t received a ballot by Friday, contact her office in City Hall, or just come in person.

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 28th, 2015

Jan 28, 2015

CMC Holds Local Associates Level Tuition to Zero Increase

Tuition for locals will be the same at Colorado Mountain College this academic year. The board of trustees approved a zero increase on associate-degree-level courses for those who live in the district. Those who are in-state but out of district will be an extra $6.50 per credit hour at the associates-degree level while residents of Chaffee, Grand and Jackson Counties will pay $6 extra per credit hour. The biggest increase comes for those paying out-of-state tuition, who will see a $56 per credit hour increase. A news release from CMC says the school remains one of the most affordable in the state. At the same time, the board of trustees are expected to work over the next few months on comprehensive and strategic plans to improve student access and achievement through changes to the school’s financial aid programs.

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.

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.

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 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.

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 20th, 2015

Jan 20, 2015

Aspen Mayor to Talk Climate Change at National Conference

Aspen mayor Steve Skadron is heading to Washington at the end of the week to talk to other U.S. mayors about preparing for a changed climate.

Climate resiliency planning is one of Aspen City Council’s top ten goals. The City commissioned a study to examine what kinds of changes are in store for the resort town. The temperature is expected to increase and the number of frost-free days will rise.

Aspen has also worked to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions through the Canary Initiative. Mayor Steve Skadron says he plans to share Aspen’s progress.

“The work we’ve done to this point will be recognized as some of the most aggressive out there. That’s the message I want to put forth to my fellow mayors, that if a community like ours can address this, there’s opportunities for other communities, as well.”

The two-day meeting is called the Mayor’s Innovation Project and “integrating climate resilience into city decisions” is one of four main topics the mayors will discuss.

Your Evening News - January 19th, 2015

Jan 19, 2015

Aspen to Talk Child Care

The City of Aspen is gathering community leaders together to discuss early child care and its importance tomorrow. Organizers say affordable childcare supports the resort town’s economy.

Shirley Ritter with the City’s Kids First program says a quarter of the families who either work or live in Aspen are receiving some kind of child care assistance. Her office distributes financial aid to about 50 families. Other programs, through the school district and county, support more kids. She says the benefits keep workers in town.

“In this community we know that housing is really expensive, everybody’s well aware of that. But unless you have young children, you probably aren’t aware of how expensive child care is. It can be just as expensive as housing. Sometimes people pay more than what they pay in rent.”

Tuesday’s discussion includes a screening of the PBS documentary “The Raising of America.” And, officials from Aspen’s business community will talk about how they support their employees. The event is at noon at the Wheeler Opera House.

Valley Roundup - January 16th, 2015

Jan 16, 2015

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

The lodging review continues in Aspen and for the city council, this week, it was a mixed bag.

Meanwhile, the city employees reviewing those plans are looking for a new home of their own.

A proposed pot growing operation faces the NIMBY wrath in Silt.

Do we love the Maroon Bells too much and is that a problem?

Should Garfield County voters have the chance to vote for commissioners by district instead of at large?

Aspen and Glenwood Springs are going all mail balloting this spring

And what’s the lowdown on uphilling? That’s a conference coming on that topic.

Your Evening News - January 14th, 2015

Jan 14, 2015

Aspen May Have to Build More Government Office Space

The City of Aspen is trying to decide where to put its workers. There’s not enough existing space for them including the police department. Tomorrow, the City is holding the last in a series of open houses on the issue.

Workers are severely cramped, plus Aspen is losing lots of office space due to rental agreements. City employee Jack Wheeler is overseeing how to solve the problem. He says there isn’t enough office space for the City to rent in Aspen. So, building is the only viable option.

“We went through several different iterations, we presented them to Council, Council and the public pointed at two distinct options. Both options that we’re pursuing include police facility at 540 Main.”

That’s city property next to the Pitkin County Plaza Building.

The difference in the plans lies in whether to renovate and expand city hall or effectively create a new city hall near the Pitkin County library by renovating and expanding existing city buildings there.

Either wouldn’t be in place until sometime 2018. So, Wheeler is also juggling an interim plan.

Valley Roundup - December 19th, 2014

Dec 19, 2014

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

This week, development can often seem like three-dimensional chess – we’ll get the latest on Mark Hunt’s lodging plans for Aspen.

A wider runway is on the horizon for the Aspen Pitkin County Airport. But, if citizens need to vote on it would it get approved?

Rifle remembers the life of Air Force Captain William DuBois as he is laid to rest.

Glenwood Springs will get a review of air quality near downtown.

Could an antique chair lift derail Aspen Mountain’s world cup racing plans?

How many weed shops are too many… one… six… sixteen?

And, I’ll have a conversation with a familiar name in the valley, and voice you hear often on this program, who is taking a leadership role in the Aspen Public Radio news room.

Joining me this week are Curtis Wackerle, Managing Editor of the Aspen Daily News and Randy Essex, Editor of the Glenwood Post Independent.

Mountain Edition - December 18th, 2014

Dec 18, 2014

Good afternoon and welcome to Mountain Edition.

Schools in the Roaring Fork Valley get graded- some of the best and the worst in the state are here.

Basalt has its first menorah lighting to celebrate the beginning of Hanukkah.

Aspen’s new Airport Director takes the helm as County Commissioners decide how to widen the airfield.

New owners at Krabloonik aim for a kinder, friendlier era and they are receiving a “thumbs up”, so far, from a group whose aim is to make sure the sled dogs are well cared for.

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.

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.

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?