Aspen Airport Master Plan Update Session

Aspen-Pitkin County AirportI recently attended a charrette (fancy designersb word for small group brainstorming session) on the proposed Pitkin County b Aspen Airport Master Plan Update.

Planning for the future is a great idea, and the more people who can be involved in interpreting current conditions and how future conditions might look, the better.B I am honored and pleased to be involved at this stage as a public citizen and am proud to be a part of the solution, not just a part of the problem!

At this small group meeting we were asked to think about future needs and uses at the Aspen Airport and how to plan for them.B Of course, some of this discussion develops through examining current problems and better solutions, and some of the discussion develops based on bestimatesb provided by professionals.B The bestimatesb can be everything from parking needs, to numbers of public/private airplane trips, to numbers of water closets (fancy words for toilets) will be needed.

My thoughts, somewhat in retrospect, are the following:

1. Ibm not sure how we can really determine future need for private or public flights into Aspen, but Ibm willing to go along with the professionals.

2.B I do think we can do a better job at getting from home and hotel to the airport, vice-versa, and the bairport experienceb (fancy words for what-can-you-do-when-you-get-there).


3. If we can, we should provide more for people to do once they pass security.B This could include hair-brained ideas like a climbing wall for kids; a stationary bike gym that uses people-pedal-power to run electricity in the building (and of course a wonderful ‘ant-farm’-like display showing how it all works); Coin op Showers (maybe); Coin op Lockers (definitely) — those who get stuck there could really benefit from not hauling their stuff all around; and an interactive-learning computer center about Colorado, climate and the West.B Ibm a big fan of teaching people when they donbt know theybre being taught.

4. I think transit needs to circulate through the property, not cross over or under the Highway.B The biggest deterrent right now to using transit is crossing.B Dragging baggage a long way in outdoor (or tunnel) conditions is not something I want to do and I’m pretty hardy.B I think it’s one of the biggest mistakes at the Gondola plaza.B Every public bus lets people off on the wrong side of the road!B If transit had reversed directions, that would not be so, or if a roundabout drop-off had been included in the master plan, all vehicles would be out of the intersection for drop off.

Anyhow, I think for transit to be effective, it’s got to be door to door at the airport.

5. I know structured parking is expensive, but it seems as if the long term maintenance of snow-removal, salts, paving, etc. and the manpower to do it, might help to offset underground covered parking.B And herebs one of those hair-brained ideas:B how about a walk-in outdoor movie theater on the green roof on top of parking!!B Wow, movies under starlight Aspen skies. B Hmm, only in the dark, so airport landings are minimal; parking available at low use times; novel idea; green roof put to useb&.

6. Probably the biggest idea I have is to somehow incorporate land owned by the City of Aspen (locally known as the BMC West parcel) into these development plans!

Well heck, the City owns it, itbs directly across from the current airport, is at a place in Highway 82 thatbs already wider (according to site maps presented at the charrette) than the current stop-lighted intersection at the AABC (again, fancy local acronym for Aspen Airport Business Center).B What else?B At a minimum, a new access should be designed for the airport.B The current access burdens an intersection that serves all AABC businesses, all residences (including North 40) the CMC (Colorado Mountain College) Campus.B The area at the BMC parcel and the across-highway airport land could be redeveloped with less physical restriction than the current access.B And the current access could be used as a secondary, up-valley traffic entrance and circulation for that transit Ibd like to see on site.

Ibm happy to lob ideas toward the design team of Jviation (represented at my table by Scott Cary, PE) and Bluegreen (represented by Sheri Sanzone, ASLA) (among others)!B Ibd like to think Ibm creative, not crazy, and that sometimes the picture may actually be larger in scope and consequence than a typical government project allows.B I also look forward to the teambs professional development of a plan that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs (many words for one fancy word: Sustainability b see The Bruntland Commission of the United Nations, March 20, 1987).

Image from Aspen-Pitkin County Airport

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