Aspen Public Radio

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.

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 21st, 2015

Jan 21, 2015

X Games Briefs Aspen on Plans

The ESPN Winter X Games will be up and running tonight. Organizers briefed Pitkin County officials yesterday on the final details.

The Roaring Fork Transportation Authority expects upwards of 38,000 rides starting this evening through Sunday. Where those people are dropped off and picked up at Buttermilk is one of the changes in place this year. Pitkin County Manager Jon Peacock.

“For past attendees of the X Games, the layout will be a little different, with construction and new bus circulation on the venue, how people will come to and leave the venue will look a little bit different, but I think it’ll be even more efficient than in years past.”

Events begin at 7pm this evening. Another change this year is concerts will be on site instead of in Aspen.

Your Evening News - January 20th, 2015

Jan 20, 2015

Mark Hunt to Take Aspen’s Questions at Public Forum

The man who controls the majority of buildings in downtown Aspen will speak publicly for the first time to the community on his future plans. Aspen Business Events is hosting a question-and-answer session with Mark Hunt. Along with investors, Hunt has amassed 15 buildings in the commercial core and has invested more than $100 million in real estate in the city. The event will take place on Thursday at 5pm at BB’s Kitchen. Two Hunt proposals for low-cost hotels go before the Aspen City Council on Monday.

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.

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.

Your Morning News - January 16th, 2015

Jan 16, 2015

Glenwood Springs Reviews Expanded Meadows Development Plan

Last night Glenwood Springs Council took an early look at a proposed development at the Glenwood Meadows Shopping Center. It would add nearly two hundred housing units and commercial space to the bustling shopping complex.

Because the project is in the early phases, no action was required of council members last night. Mayor Leo McKinney said afterward the proposal was generally well received.

Your Evening News - January 15th, 2015

Jan 15, 2015

Glenwood Considering New Meadows Development

Tonight Glenwood Springs Council will take an early look at a proposed development at the Glenwood Meadows Shopping Center. It would add nearly two hundred housing units and commercial space to the bustling shopping complex.

The new development proposal includes 174 residential units and nearly 6,000 square feet of commercial space as well as amenities like a coffee lounge, business center, and gym.

Andrew McGregor oversees Community Development for the City of Glenwood Springs. He says City Council must keep in mind the area has been assessed for mudslides.

“We’re very in tune with the geologic environment out there, and of course very concerned with making sure that all construction is done taking that into full consideration.”

McGregor says the Meadows has structures in place to help prevent slides. The business and energy of the shopping center, which includes stores like Target and Lowe’s, is one reason McGregor thinks the development will be a good fit.

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.

Your Morning News - January 14th, 2015

Jan 14, 2015

Accident Leads to Contaminated Water

A truck accident has led to diesel in drinking water for some residents in the Rifle area. Garfield County officials said last night they were notified by the Colorado Department of Public Health about the problem. According to the county, a truck rolled in the area, leaking sixty gallons of diesel into an irrigation ditch. Although an environmental clean-up crew is on-site, possibly fifteen gallons escaped farther downstream where the Cottonwood mobile home park is. As of Monday, three to four residents there reported diesel in their drinking water. The Colorado health department is handling the incident.

Your Morning News - January 13th, 2015

Jan 13, 2015

City of Aspen to Mail Ballots for Next City Election

Voters in Aspen will use mail-in ballots for the next election in May. Aspen City Council decided to make the switch to automatic mail-in ballots.

A majority of council members voted in favor of the mail ballots, saying allowing more convenience and expanding voting participation is a good idea. Council Member Ann Mullins was one of those voting in favor of expanding beyond a polling center.

"Things change, people, they’re traveling, their schedules are different. It is a small town, but it’s not a small town while everybody’s here, on that day, able to go to the polls.

Voters can still cast a ballot early or on Election Day at City Hall. That will be the only vote center in Aspen.  If a runoff election is necessary, it would also be based on mail-in ballots. The State of Colorado moved to all mail-in ballot elections starting last year. Those are carried out by county election officials. Cities and special districts can make their own decision on whether to follow suit.

Your Evening News - January 12th, 2015

Jan 12, 2015

State Health Officials Observing Possible Ebola Case

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment says a person who traveled to an Ebola-affected country in Africa is under observation following fever symptoms in Denver. Doctor Larry Wolk is Executive Director of the state department. In a news release he says the person came to Denver Health overnight and will be monitored and evaluated. The person is believed to be at low-risk for ebola, but they will be tested for the disease. Health officials say they are exercising extreme caution.

Your Morning News - January 12th, 2015

Jan 12, 2015

Basalt Police Seek Suspect in Robbery

Basalt Police are looking for a man who robbed a liquor store in Old Town. Jimbo’s Wine and Liquor on Basalt Center Circle was robbed just before 10 o’clock Friday night. The suspect was wearing a stocking cap and a black ski mask. He took out a knife and told a store employee to open the cash register then left with the cash.

Police describe the suspect as a white male, about five-foot-eight with a medium build and brown eyes. The department is reviewing video surveillance and encouraging anyone with information to contact them.

Your Evening News - January 9th, 2015

Jan 9, 2015

Easier Complaint System for Oil & Gas Operations

It’s now easier to file a complaint about oil and gas operations. Colorado regulators today announced a streamlined complaint system they say is more transparent.

Regulators say the previous process wasn’t transparent enough and that translated into wasting staff time. Workers were focused on filling out forms and sometimes multiple staff members were working on the same complaint without even knowing it. Dave Kulmann is Deputy Director of Field Operations for the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. He says with the tremendous boom in oil and gas activity on the Front Range, there’s been a change in the kind of complaints, too.

“The complaints are more complex. They’re multiple issues within one complaint, so it’s taking longer for us to actually process and resolve a complaint and communicate the results back.”

Kulmann describes the new complaint process as part of the agency’s evolution to do a better job keeping an eye on the industry.

Your Evening News - January 8th, 2015

Jan 8, 2015

Environment Foundation Awards Over $95,000

A non-profit connected to the Aspen Skiing Company and aimed at environmental causes is releasing over $31,000 in grants to local efforts.

A news release from the Environment Foundation says the money will be split between six groups working on youth education. Those receiving the grants include the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies, Basalt Middle and High School and the Waldorf School of the Roaring Fork.

An additional $64,000 is being sent to seven additional organizations focused on energy efficiency, limiting the impacts of drilling on the Western Slope and maintenance and expansion of trials in the Roaring Fork Valley. In total, the Environment Foundation is donating more than $95,000 to 13 projects. The money was raised by Ski Co employees and was matched by various companies and area non-profits.

Your Morning News - January 8th, 2015

Jan 8, 2015

RFTA Looks to Expand Parking for Riders

The Roaring Fork Transportation Authority is trying to solve the problem of overflowing parking lots at its bus stops. RFTA’s Board of Directors will consider possible solutions at its meeting today.

Parking lots for bus riders fill up fast in the Roaring Fork Valley. By 8am on weekdays lots in places like El Jebel and Carbondale are packed.

RFTA officials point to positive growth in ridership since the Bus Rapid Transit system started in 2013. Three new parking lots - in Carbondale, Glenwood Springs and New Castle are planned. In the meantime, RFTA must find a way to free up spots for transit users. Michael Hermes is Director of Facilities for RFTA.

“There are activities going on at the park and ride’s not related to transit such as ridesharing and patrons of adjacent businesses parking there. So, other uses are taking up spots that are intended for transit users.”

The board will discuss whether RFTA should take enforcement measures to keep drivers out who aren’t intending on taking the bus. RFTA manages more than 800 parking spots in its system from Rifle to Aspen.

Your Evening News - January 7th, 2015

Jan 7, 2015

Explore Offer Comes from a National Nonprofit Group  

A collection of national nonprofits that fight for such causes as the environment, social justice and consumer protection might be the new owner of Aspen’s Explore Bookstore soon. The Aspen Times reports the group known as the Public Interest Network has a contract to buy Explore Booksellers and the attached restaurant for $5 million. In order for the deal to go through a Texas bankruptcy judge must approve it in the case of Samuel Wyly who owns the store. Over the past 30 years, the Public Interest Network has held events in Aspen and been fans of Explore. Officials with the group say the survival of an independent bookstore meshes with its mission. The Texas judge is expected to review the offer today. If approved, the sale of Explore is expected to close on January 16th.

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