City Hires Consultants to Lead Public Art Outreach
The city of Aspen’s creation of a public arts program will be shaped by a team of consultants charged with designing both a plan and community-engagement process, the Aspen Daily News reported. The consultants come in response to residents’ pleas in the fall for a public arts program. The program likely would consist of city-owned art displays installed around town for community members and visitors to see. The consultants, ThereSquared LLC and Stilwell Cultural Consulting LLC, will conduct research, look at the city’s current art collection of about 27 pieces and where they are located, and make recommendations on their placement.
New Police Chief Announced
The city of Aspen announced that Kim Ferber, operations commander at the Sterling Police Department, will be Aspen’s next chief of police, the Aspen Daily News reported. Ferber was selected from five finalists, including two internal candidates, after a comprehensive, nationwide search. A press release described Ferber as an innovative, empathetic, and transparent leader with more than 27 years of rural, suburban and state law enforcement experience.
Website Launched to Track STR Permits
The city of Aspen staff added the STR-C Permit Availability Summary to the city’s website, the Aspen Times reported. This report shows detailed information about the number of issued and available STR-C permits in capped zones and is intended to inform applicants about waitlist length in zones for which STR-C waitlists exist. Map users can enter any address in the city of Aspen to see if an active STR permit exists for a property. Users can also see the type of permit, permit number, and name of the permittee for active permits.
Torre, Guth, Rose Win City Election
Aspen voters re-elected the incumbent Mayor Torre by a margin of 561 votes, rejecting political newcomer Tracy Sutton, the Aspen Times reported. He garnered 1,675 votes, and Sutton won 1,114 votes. Torre gained about 60% of the vote to Sutton’s 40%, which is in line with the short-term rental excise tax Aspen voters confirmed in November. City voters elected the council’s possibly youngest member in history, Sam Rose, 29, and William “Bill” Guth. Rose had a big lead over the other two candidates — first-time challenger Guth and incumbent Skippy Mesirow. Guth defeated Mesirow by roughly 210 votes. Guth, whose pro-real-estate-development campaign seemed controversial at times, eked out a win for the second City Council seat.
While paid occupancy in Snowmass is still slightly below last year’s levels, revenue is trending upward, the Aspen Times reported. According to a Desimetrics report, paid occupancy as of Feb. 28 in Snowmass for the winter season is at 53.2% compared to 56.3% last year. Revenue for both the month of February and the winter season is up from the past year. The average daily rate (ADR) is up 13.9%.
The Fields Developers Withdraws Application
The developer of a controversial midvalley proposal called The Fields withdrew an application for 135 residences after it became clear it would be rejected by the three Eagle County commissioners, the Aspen Daily News reported. The developers made a last-ditch effort to salvage the project by asking the commissioners to table the application and give them time to respond to the commissioners’ concerns, but the commissioners declined. The developer does have the option to rework the plan and resubmit an application, but it would start new.
The commissioners were in agreement that the nearly 20-acre property along Valley Road west of Crown Mountain Park is eligible for higher density and that the plan is compatible with the surrounding neighborhood. However, to get the higher density, the developer requires a change in zoning, and a major criteria for an upzoning is public benefit. The developer proposed price caps on 34 units and a “resident occupied” designation on another 20 but that was not enough to entice commissioners to see the full public benefit.
Basalt Shatters Sales Tax Records
Basalt’s economy keeps shattering annual records for sales and sales tax collections, the Aspen Daily News reported. The town government broke the $10 million barrier in sales tax collections for the first time ever in 2022. The town collected $10.49 million, up nearly 17% from 2021. The last year the town failed to increase sales tax collections over the previous year was 2016, when it slipped by less than 1%. Since then, sales tax collections jumped 9.3% in 2017; 2.7% in 2018; and 10.4% in 2019 before heading into even higher territory during the buying frenzy that marked the COVID-19 years.
A family-owned home decor and gift store operated by Amber and Ted Frisbie opened in March, the Sopris Sun reported. They work closely with local and small business owners, as well as local and international artists, to stock the shelves with all kinds of home goods, clothing and artwork. Amber is originally from northern Michigan and moved to Carbondale in 2005 to teach at Crystal River Elementary School and met Ted, a Carbondale Community School teacher and musician with the Hell Roaring String Band, which played at the grand opening. The Crow & Key is located at 443 Main St, between Flowers on Main and Bonfire Coffee.
Hot Springs Continues Renovation
The Glenwood Hot Springs Resort announced the third phase of a multiyear renovation plan, including five new pools and a shaded area, the Aspen Daily News reported. The East End Expansion Project will add a new swimming area with five additional pools featuring varying water
Landfill’s Life Might Get an Extension
Pitkin County is working on a plan to extend the life expectancy of the landfill by an estimated 70 years, but it won’t be quick or cheap, the Aspen Daily News reported. County staff is hoping to expand the territory to dump and bury garbage to the south and west of the current burial grounds, but if no action is taken, the dump will be filled in about six years.
If approved, infrastructure would be relocated in 2026, at a cost of $9 million. It would include building a new scale house in a different location and reconfiguring the dump road after it climbs into the landfill grounds. The south expansion would allow trash to be buried where the existing scale house and access road are located. The expansion would be undertaken in 2027 at a cost of $6.25 million. The work would add an estimated 25 years to the life of the landfill. The west expansion is further down the road, slated for 2050. It would add 45 years to the landfill at a price estimated in today’s dollars at $4.1 million.
Major Enviro Groups Oppose Trail
The challenges have piled up in the U.S. Forest Service review process against the proposed trail between Redstone and the McClure Pass summit, the Aspen Daily News reported. A total of 31 formal objections were filed against a White River National Forest draft decision for approval of the 7-mile trail. About three-fourths of the objections were by opponents who contend the project should be denied, including Carbondale-based Wilderness Workshop and the Colorado Chapter of the Sierra Club.
Their entry into the debate is important because they have the experience and background of filing sophisticated objections that the Forest Service will be forced to answer. They contend that the Forest Service is taking a business-as-usual approach despite clear evidence that increased recreation is taking a toll on wildlife and the environment.
SkiCo Names New CEO
Aspen Skiing Co. lured away a top executive from Vail Resorts Inc.’s Whistler Blackcomb in British Columbia, to become its new CEO, the Aspen Times reported. Geoff Buchheister has been named the new CEO to run its mountain operations, following a search that began after Mike Kaplan announced his retirement in March 2022. Buchheister adds another piece to the structural changes that have been taking place at Skico, which included establishing its Aspen Hospitality division, led by CEO Alinio Azevedo, and AspenX, led by COO Darcy Loeb.
Buchheister, 48, had been chief operating officer at the 8,100-acre Whistler Blackcomb since November 2019. He gained most of his professional experience at Park City, Utah, where he worked in various leadership roles, Skico said. He began working for Vail Resorts when the company bought Park City Mountain Resort in 2014.
Regional Housing Coalition Formed
The West Mountain Regional Housing Coalition formed last year with eight Roaring Fork Valley government entities as its members with the aim to launch a “buydown” program targeted at helping locals purchase homes listed for $800,000 or less, Aspen Journalism reported. The group would give homeowners cash to help make the purchase — $100,000 or more, coalition members estimate — in exchange for placing a deed restriction on the properties at purchase to keep them occupied by local people who intend to live there full time.
According to data prepared for the coalition by two brokers at Aspen Snowmass Sotheby’s International Realty, in the first half of 2022, there were a combined 97 free-market home sales in Basalt and Glenwood Springs under $800,000. Seventy-two of them were in Glenwood Springs, 15 in Basalt and 10 in Carbondale. The Basalt and Carbondale sales have been of particular interest to the coalition as observers report more sales going to second-home owners, short-term rentals and retirees and this program hopes to combat that trend.
Vail to Close Its Aspen Sports Stores
The retail arm of Vail Resorts decided before the ski season began that it would close several of its Aspen Sports outlets and other stores in Aspen and Snowmass Village, the Aspen Daily News reported. SSI Venture Inc, the retail arm of Vail Resorts, filed notices of closures of nine outlets in Aspen and Snowmass Village with the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment. SSI Venture sent individual notices on the pending closure of nine outlets in Aspen and Snowmass Village, with seven of them affiliated with the Aspen Sports brand. The Patagonia and The North Face shops in Snowmass Village will also close. They will all close over several months this spring.