ASE

A plane takes off from Aspen/Pitkin County Airport. Recommendations from the ASE Vision Committee will be reviewed today by the Pitkin Board of County Commissioners beginning at 9 a.m.

A full morning of discussion has been set aside today for the Pitkin Board of County Commissioners to continue its review of the “Final Report of the Airport Vision Committee — The Common Ground Recommendations.”

The meeting begins at 9 a.m. and may be viewed via the live feed on pitkincounty.com or grassrootstv.org. Public comment will not be taken at this meeting, but according to Commissioner Kelly McNicholas Kury it’s likely that an additional public comment session will be scheduled in between work sessions and first reading of a resolution to adopt the ASE Vision Statement.

Elected officials are taking their time with this airport white paper, which includes 15 recommendations as presented by the vision committee. Five advisory groups with 123 appointed citizen volunteers worked for more than 15 months to produce final recommendations for the BOCC’s consideration. On March 10, the committee voted 20-1 to approve the recommendations, 71 in total, to “achieve community goals.”

Review was postponed during the pandemic but restarted in late summer and continued in earnest during recent meetings. The public’s interest has been heightened over the past month as the BOCC’s discussion of the report has picked up in earnest. More than 40 pages of public comment, both pro and con, are included in the agenda packet.

Friday’s meeting with the BOCC will see a pair of presentations, one by Holland and Knight on legal input of possible airport privatization and possible modification of standards, and a second by Kimley Horn to provide input on ramp space and the airport layout plan

“I believe the board is trying to complete the vision process by the end of this year,” McNicholas Kury said Thursday. “Many of these individual recommendations take on their own timelines and phasing, some which can be done right now (such as baseline air and noise monitoring) and others that can be pushed into the future.”

Two readings, including a formal resolution, will be required to adopt the ASE Vision statement.

The purpose of the “ASE Vision” process, according to the county, is to “advise the BOCC on how the Pitkin County-Aspen Airport should be modernized to accommodate the community’s air service needs and reflect changes in the air service industry, while also remaining true to the character and values of the community.”

Widening the runway to allow a new generation of commercial aircraft to replace the CRJ-700 jets utilized by airlines serving this market, was among the recommendations; it’s become a flashpoint for opponents who claim the aircraft’s demise is not imminent. If the runway is left where it is, the tower may need a future relocation.

Packet material for the meeting with the BOCC states that: “It should be noted that the ASE Vision Process was just that, a vision process. It was not a design exercise. Depending on the direction the Board gives regarding these vision recommendations, there will be ongoing design work, and more public process, as vision is turned to reality.”

Madeleine Osberger is a contributing editor of the Aspen Daily NewsShe can be reached at madski@aspendailynews.com or on Twitter @Madski99