Aspen Sees Record Visitors in October
According to numbers compiled by Stay Aspen Snowmass, Aspen had a 23.6% increase in occupancy during October compared to the same month last year, the Aspen Daily News reported. Occupancy in Snowmass Village was down slightly year over year, making for just over a 10% combined increase in total resort bookings.
For the month, overall occupancy clocked in at 43%, at an average daily rate of $309 in Aspen.
September saw better numbers than the prior year in Aspen too, rounding out a summer season that was demolished early on by stay-at-home orders and the cancellation of every area signature event.
School Measures Overwhelmingly Pass on Ballot
Aspen voters showed up for the local school district and in two landslide votes, Aspen favored issues 2B and 4A by 79.85%and 74.25%, respectively, the Aspen Daily News reported. Issue 2B will renew the city of Aspen’s 0.03% sales tax, which is expected to raise $1.5 million per year for the Aspen School District. The sales tax would have otherwise expired at the end of the year.
Question 4A is a bond proposal that will go into effect after the current bond expires and is expected to raise nearly $90 million for the school district. It will address the school district’s most dire capital facility needs as well as employee housing. Voting yes on both issues will not increase residents’ taxes.
Red Onion Closes, Hopefully Temporarily
Aspen’s venerable drinking institution, the Red Onion, closed because of health restrictions that have doomed its prime-time business hours of 10 p.m. to 2 a.m., the Aspen Times reported.
Landlord Mark Hunt and Red Onion owners Brad Smith and Michael Tierney agreed to terminate the restaurant’s lease on the Cooper Avenue pedestrian mall with a verbal understanding they could re-open the space when the coronavirus pandemic has ended.
Thirty to 35 employees will be impacted by the closure.
AMFS Announces LImited Summer Festival Season
The Aspen Music Festival and School announced it would be hosting an in-person season during summer 2021, the Aspen Times reported. They’re planning on daily in-person concerts and instruction across the full spectrum of instruments and traditions. The Nov. 6 announcement, modest in its promises and scant in its details, is a beacon of hope for the hard-hit arts and culture community, a reminder that the pandemic will end someday. It won’ t be back to “normal” next summer, but the festival has said it will augment programming.
Snowmass Ski Area Debuts Big Burn Lift This Season
After 33 years, the Big Burn lift on Snowmass was replaced this summer, the Aspen Daily News reported. The $10.8 million new Big Burn lift follows the same alignment as the old one and terminates in the same spot, at the top of the Burn at 11,835 feet. The new base of the Big Burn starts about 200 feet higher up the hill and is more adjacent to the Ullrhof restaurant than the old lift. This ski season, a heated, lighted tent outside the Ullrhof safely socially distances and seats 50.
The 78 lift chairs are more widely spread out along the lift cables, so mountain enthusiasts will have more time this year — about 10 seconds — to load onto the lift. The six-person chair requires more decking space at the base and the ride is seven to eight minutes.
Bill Madsen Elected Snowmass Mayor
Bill Madsen is the next mayor of Snowmass Village, the Aspen Daily News reported. Madsen defeated his colleague on town council, Tom Goode, by 753 to 630 votes after surging to an early lead and maintaining a healthy margin throughout the evening. The race to fill outgoing Mayor Markey Butler’s seat wasn’t as close as some had predicted, with Madsen claiming 54.45% of the votes to Goode’s 45.5%. Butler — who has served as mayor since 2014 and as the first woman in that role in Snowmass’ history — was term-limited.
Two On-Mountain Restaurants Debut in Snowmass
Two distinct concepts housed under one large roof, High Alpine and Alpin Room restaurants will welcome skiers, snowboarders and skinners this winter in the space formerly known as Gwyn’s, the Aspen Daily News reported. Longtime Snowmass locals Gwyn Knowlton and George Gordon opened the restaurant in 1979, and ran it with their family up until this spring, when SkiCo took over the lease.
High Alpine will offer multiple stations serving pizza, homemade soups and stews, salads, burgers and other lunch staples. Alpin Room will offer breakfast from 9:15 a.m. to 10:45 a.m., with homemade bagels and a smoked seafood tower anchoring the morning menu. Then, for lunch (11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.), the eatery will pay homage to its cultural inspiration with warm popovers with butter and jam to start, followed by classics like tartiflette, chicken schnitzel and duck confit.
Pan and Fork Property Sale Complete
A decade-long, occasionally ugly chapter in Basalt’s history ended November with the sale of the Pan and Fork property, the Aspen Times reported. Basalt River Park LLC purchased 2.3 acres of empty land from the nonprofit organization Roaring Fork Community Development Corp (CDC). In a simultaneous transaction, Basalt River Park sold 1 acre of the land to the town of Basalt.
The site is sandwiched between the Roaring Fork River and Two Rivers Road. It is adjacent to Rocky Mountain Institute’s headquarters. The town of Basalt will fold its 1 acre into an existing, adjacent park along the Roaring Fork River. The town also acquired a small site within the development for an arts or other nonprofit use. The town paid $1.5 million. Basalt River Park paid $1.7 million for its portion. Both sales worked out to $31.70 per square foot.
Town to Distribute Over $35,000 to Under 100 Taxpayers
The town of Basalt announced that unclaimed refunds from last year’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) rebate will be sent to the state’s unclaimed property fund, commonly known as the Great Colorado Payback, the Aspen Daily News reported. The town will distribute $35,681 among 95 property owners.
The transfer of funds is a successful ending to the town’s efforts to correct an error in how it had previously adjusted its property tax mill levy rate for commercial and residential property.
Town staff discovered the error while preparing the 2019 budget and brought it to the council and, subsequently, the public’s attention. The town has refunded just over $2 million to taxpayers.
Historic Dinkel Building for Sale
The Dinkel building, which makes up the entire north side of the 400 block of Main St. in Carbondale, is up for sale for the first time in 30 years, the Sopris Sun reported. Some of the current businesses have been there since before the current owner invested. The building is listed for $4,995,000. The building is home to the Crystal Theatre, Main Street Gallery and Framer, Steve’s Guitars and the Black Nugget, among others.
Second Nepalese Restaurant Opens in Glenwood Springs
The owners of the Nepal Restaurant at the Thunder River Market at the CMC turnoff on Highway 82 recently opened a second eatery, Everest Nepal Restaurant, in Glenwood Meadows, the Glenwood Springs Post Independent reported. Business at their primary location Nepal Restaurant increased 20% this year, and the owners felt expansion was appropriate.
There are some differences between the two restaurants. Everest Nepal offers Tandoori chicken, which is not available at the Highway 82 location. The business model is also different at Everest Nepal, which features “grab and go” lunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. It’s not buffet, it’s cafeteria style, which is safer in terms of the coronavirus but is still a quick way to get lunch.
Arts and Culture Contributes 12% to Local Economy
The arts and cultural industry accounts for 12.4% of economic activity in Pitkin County and has doubled in 15 years, according to an Aspen Snowmass Arts & Culture Economic Impact Study, reported by the Aspen Daily News. That translates to $451 million in economic impact and 2,831 year-round jobs, directly or indirectly.
The numbers show that Pitkin County outranks the state, nation and comparable markets — such as Santa Fe County, Summit County and Teton County — when it comes to the percentage of jobs in the arts and culture sector. In Pitkin County, 4.7% of jobs are related to the arts, compared to 3.3% in Colorado and 2% nationwide.
Pitkin County Leads State in Recycling Rates
The city of Aspen boasts a 33% total diversion rate and a 24% recycling rate, the Aspen Daily News reported. Pitkin County ranks No. 1 in the state for county recycling and diversion rates, at 38%. The state, however, fared worse. Colorado’s recycling rate in 2019 dropped from 17.2% to 15.9%. That’s less than half the national average of 35%. The statistics were part of a recently released report presented in November for Colorado Recycles Week.
E-Bikes Causing Safety Issues on Maroon Creek Road
The explosion of the electric-assisted pedal bikes being used on Maroon Creek Road, which is closed to most private automobile traffic in the summer and fall, is becoming a safety hazard for RFTA drivers, officials reported during a Roaring Fork Transportation Authority meeting in November. RFTA operated the Maroon Bells shuttles from Aspen Highlands to the scenic area from late June through mid-October this year, and drivers reported an unprecedented number of e-bikers, which caused safety issues because of their sheer numbers and lack of awareness for rules of the road when biking. A task force is being put together to address the issue for next summer.