World Cup to Return to Aspen Next Winter
Aspen will once again be on the International Skiing Federation World Cup calendar next year, the FIS Alpine World Cup Tour announced. The men’s giant slalom and slalom will be back in Aspen on March 2 and 3, 2024, the penultimate stop in the season before the World Cup finals in Saalbach, Austria. The schedule marks a pivot in events in Aspen from this year, which included two downhills and a super-G across the three days. The World Cup returned to America’s Downhill this year after a five-year hiatus following the 2017 finals.
Pickleball Courts Moving Ahead
Aspen’s pickleball community soon will have seven new courts of their own to play on, and their tennis-playing neighbors will get a new regulation-size court as well, the Aspen Daily News reported. The city of Aspen presented the design for the new pickleball and tennis facility at an open house-style event in May to update the public and the pickleball community on the plans at the current Iselin facility at the Aspen Recreation Center.
In addition to the new courts, the new location will feature a gathering space, bathroom facility and walk-up snack bar. The project is currently in the design and land use application phase, and the city hopes that it will move into the approval process this summer. The city council will need to approve a contract with a firm to construct the facility. Construction is planned to start in 2024.
No Forest Service Operations in Aspen, Again
For the fourth consecutive summer, the U.S. Forest Service won’t operate an office in Aspen where the public can inquire about activities on the White River National Forest, the Aspen Daily News reported. The agency announced summer hours in its public offices on the White River.
The Aspen-Sopris Ranger District’s office at 620 Main St. in Carbondale will be open 8 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. The Forest Service used to have public hours at its Aspen facilities at 806 W. Hallam St. on the S-curves but hasn’t staffed the center since 2019. The forest service decided not to operate a visitors center in Aspen because of limited funding.
Slopeside Home Sells for $65 Million
The recent sale of an Aspen mansion for $65 million marks the most expensive real estate deal so far in Pitkin County in 2023, the Aspen Daily News reported. The home was originally listed for $100 million in June 2022. The home has 14,154 square feet of livable space, according to the Pitkin County Assessor’s Office, which listed the property’s actual value as $65.6 million, reflecting a combination of $14 million for the land and $51.6 million for the house.
The mountainside has 10 bedrooms and 12 baths. The home, most recently remodeled in 2015, is situated just west of the Lift One area on Aspen Mountain. It sits on nearly an acre and a half of land. Assessor’s records identify the property’s former ownership as Detroit manufacturing mogul and philanthropist Joel Tauber and his relatives. The buyer was Flores Family Residence LLC.
Summer Booking Down in Snowmass
As of mid-May, summer tourism in Snowmass Village is pacing below last year’s rate, the Aspen Times reported. “Our summer season is down 20% in room nights booked,” said Rose Abello, Snowmass Tourism director. She said June through September are considered the summer months, and they are all currently pacing below last year. June is down 7.6%, July is down 28%, August is down 30.94%, and September is down 13.03%. Snowmass isn’t the only resort seeing a drop in occupancy and rooms booked for the coming summer.
Basalt River Park to Host Concerts this Summer
Basalt is ready to let its new river park shine this summer during the Wednesday night concert series, the Aspen Daily News reported. The Basalt River Park is scheduled to start hosting concerts starting July 12. It will be the primary venue through Aug. 30. The initial two shows of the year will be held at Triangle Park in Willits. The river park has been under construction the last two summers and one of the final features is the bandshell. The full schedule is available at basalt.net/concerts.
Response Moving Through Approvals for Facility
After building a history of assisting victims of domestic and sexual abuse in the Roaring Fork Valley for the last 40 years, the nonprofit organization Response is now working toward a permanent facility, the Aspen Daily News reported. Response’s land-use application for an office and shelter sailed through first-round approval by the Basalt Town Council by a vote of 6-0. A second reading and public hearing is needed to finalize the approval.
The organization, founded in 1983, has also made big strides in raising the $7.7 million necessary to buy the land on the south side of Highway 82 at 325 Cody Lane and construct a 7,883-square-foot building. The building will have offices, meeting rooms and a dwelling on the first floor and seven efficiency units on the second floor along with an employee housing unit.
The seven efficiency units will provide temporary shelter for victims of domestic abuse.
Teacher Housing Project Underway
The Roaring Fork School District’s Meadowood Drive employee housing project is inching toward breaking ground after solidifying a price point and contracts with project architects and framers, the Aspen Daily News reported. The district approved a guaranteed maximum price contract with FCI Constructors Inc. for $24.65 million, bringing the total project cost to $28.68 million.
The project will consist of 50 units, to be broken into eight 400-square-foot studios, 10 one-bedroom apartments, 16 two-bedroom apartments and 16 three-bedroom apartments. The design has the property, adjacent to Roaring Fork High School, divided into three buildings: two two-story buildings and one three-story.
Parking Lot Approved for Spring Gulch
Operators of the popular Spring Gulch Nordic ski trail system west of Carbondale won approval from Garfield County to build a new parking lot, the Aspen Daily News reported. Prompted by the impacts of a noticeably shorter snow season in recent years that can impact the main parking lot and lower trails off Thompson Creek Road, the Mount Sopris Nordic Council (MSNC) has been looking at some solutions.
Among them is a plan to build a second parking lot that’s a little bit higher in elevation and in a more shaded area off the Marion Cemetery Road on the north side of the ski trails network.
This past season, 3.75 miles of new ski trails opened on the northwest side of the trail system. The new lot will access the Lariat loop trail, with access back into the main trail system at the base of Little Dipper and up to Finlandia.
RFTA Purchases Rodeway Inn for Housing
The Roaring Fork Transportation Authority aims to make a big dent in its employee housing shortage and a small dent in its greenhouse emissions in one fell swoop by converting 42 motel units at the former Rodeway Inn in West Glenwood Springs into year-round studio residences for employees, the Aspen Daily News reported. RFTA purchased the motel for $4.8 million last fall. Staff has been working on a renovation plan and is ready to put the project out to bid in June. The renovation will occur in two stages with the goal of completing one building in March 2024 and the second by July The finished studio apartments will be 260 square feet.
The lack of housing required RFTA to dial back service at times last year. The agency also had to turn down a state of Colorado grant that would have allowed it to offer free service for part of summer 2022. The state program was designed to promote mass transit. RFTA couldn’t participate because it didn’t have the drivers to handle a potential influx in riders.
Commissioners Approve Funding for Child Care Capital Improvements
Pitkin County Commissioners approved grant funding for childcare centers to improve facilities and upgrade equipment, the Aspen Daily News reported. Commissioners previously approved a program in which $1,575,000 will be awarded to childcare staff in stipends to boost their compensation. Now, $224,400 will be used to support the maintenance and equipment program.
The childcare aid is coming from American Rescue Plan Act funds the county received from the federal government. Pitkin County was awarded a total of $3.45 million in ARPA funds. It must be obligated for use by Dec. 31, 2024, and fully spent by Dec. 31, 2026. Examples of needs include new carpet and paint, and improvements to outdoor playgrounds. Each licensed day care facility in the county will be eligible for up to $20,000 through the program. An application process will be crafted as quickly as possible with a goal of getting some projects moving this year.
APHCA Implements Rightsizing Program Pilot
The Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority launched a rightsizing pilot program allowing those who live in deed-restricted housing to swap units to better suit occupancy needs, the Aspen Daily News reported. The program is voluntary and included the purchase and sale of deed-restricted properties between two owners who would act as co-applicants. The goal is to fill empty bedrooms by allowing households with larger families to upsize and households with fewer people to downsize.
Last summer, APCHA collected feedback from a survey that was sent to all 1,665 homeowners in the program at the time. Results showed that only 19% of the 484 respondents said they were interested in participating. Respondents also said they would be more likely to consider participating with certain incentives like location change, cash and the addition of a garage.
Local Election Results
In early May elections, Leroy Duroux and Shelley Lundh Freeman won election to the Crown Mountain Park and Recreation District board of directors. Unofficial results showed Duroux collected 218 votes, Freeman received 168 and candidate Lari Goode had 124, the Aspen Daily News reported. There were more than 300 ballots returned, twice the turnout of the board election in 2022.
In the election for Aspen Valley Hospital, incumbent Dr. Mindy Nagle was the top vote-getter with 1,463 votes, followed by incumbent Dr. Greg Balko, with 1,177. Both grabbed the two open, four-year term seats on the board. Challenger Dr. Robert Hutton finished third with 763 votes.
In the contest for the Aspen Fire Department’s board of directors, Charles Cunniffe (785 votes) and John Ward (759 votes) won the two open seats that come with four-year terms. Placing third was Jill St. John Wagner with 691 votes and Mike Lyons with 337 votes.
Valuations Up 85%
The cumulative market value of property in Pitkin County skyrocketed by 85% this year and is expected to trigger numerous protests from individual owners, the Aspen Daily News reported.
Notices of new property values were mailed out by all 64 Colorado county assessors and appeals were due by June 8. The cumulative value for all property in Pitkin County climbed to $76.68 billion this year from $41.38 billion.