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Carbondale report: RFTA’s bike share proposal underwhelms

Locations: News Published

The most recent regular meeting saw all trustees in attendance. During “persons present not on the agenda,” three people spoke. First, Chris Hassig offered his “two cents” about budgeting to pave the Town-owned, dirt lot east of Town Hall. Hassig called it “premature” to include such a project in next year’s budget.

“We had similar thoughts as well,” assured Mayor Dan Richardson.

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Next, Richard Vottero stepped forward to ask, “What is going on with community policing?”

Richardson explained that Chief Kirk Wilson recently presented on The President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing and will return with priorities and a process to evaluate progress, including the implementation of a “Chief’s Advisory Board.”

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“My feeling is that rapid progress is really welcome,” said Vottero.

Third, Bryan Alvarez-Terrazas, project manager for MANAUS, asked the trustees about budgeting for the Town’s participation in their Equity Action Project. A new proposal from MANAUS has the nonprofit chipping in a third of the total cost of $55,000 for the Town, including the police department, to attend the diversity, equity and inclusion training together with the Carbondale and Rural Fire Protection District.

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“We should make it work,” said trustee Ben Bohmfalk. “I think it’s a step in the right direction.”

Trustee Lani Kitching shared that she spoke with some organizations that had participated in a previous training with MANAUS and their consultant, Full Circle Strategies. Kitching agreed that, at the lower cost, it’s worth it. Nonetheless, she expressed concerns that the program be flexible to accommodate participants during the transition of a new town manager on top of staffing shortages.

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“I’m hoping Full Circle tackles more socio-economic factors,” added trustee Luis Yllanes, who attended a similar training and found its focus to primarily emphasize racial equity. “I do think it’s important to support this,” said Yllanes.

It was decided to include the training, for 10 people from the Town, in next year’s draft budget.

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The bulk of Tuesday’s meeting involved a presentation by David Johnson, director of planning at Roaring Fork Transportation Authority (RFTA). In November 2018, voters in RFTA’s member jurisdictions approved a mill levy to fund strategic improvements, committing $1.2 million in capital funding, plus roughly $550,000 per year in operating funds. Among the initiatives is expansion of the nonprofit WE-cycle bike sharing program to Carbondale and Glenwood Springs, with the goal of getting more people out of their cars. WE-cycle currently services Aspen, Basalt and Snowmass Village and approximately half of all trips are to and from Bus Rapid Transit stations.

RFTA contracted with Toole Design to conduct a “First and Last Mile Mobility” study. Outreach efforts saw diverse participation in-person, with nearly half of the people contacted identifying as Latino. Representation was less diverse with an online survey, where 81% of respondents identified as “white or European” and three-quarters supported having the bike share service in Carbondale and Glenwood Springs.

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The plan could see 17 stations operating with 85 bikes and 199 docks in Carbondale.

Asked for “a ballpark estimate” of the costs, Johnson estimated between $5 and 6 million for all of the communities combined. “That’s the capital, and not operating costs.”

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Richardson clarified that the Town spends around $500,000 a year on all capital projects.

Trustee Heather Henry surmised that the bike share option may not be realistic.

Johnson clarified that the $1.2 million does not necessarily have to be spent on a bike share program. “It’s really going to be local communities that need to decide.”

“I’m going to say this in the nicest way,” said Boden Hamilton, youth representative to the board, “Nobody would use this except tourists.”

Hamilton also questions whether the system would operate year-round, to which Johnson responded, “WE-cycle doesn’t operate all through the winter,” also clarifying that it’s not meant to be an amenity for tourists. He admitted that expanded circulator service has the advantage of operating year-round.

“Lots of high schoolers would not drive to school if we had a solid circulator,” said Hamilton.

“Kind of reminds me of a school bus,” said Bohmfalk, “which we do have.” Bohmfalk made clear, “I want to get really excited about bike share, but I feel like we can’t.” He continued, “I feel like it is such a good fit for Carbondale at some point.” However, compared with a circulator, or other motorized, covered transportation: “that seems like the thing that comes first in most communities.”

Finally, interim town manager Kevin Schorzman requested contracting The Land Studio, Inc. to assist with facilitating the annexation of the Red Hill parcel, for an estimated 33 hours of work at $150 per hour, or $4,950. The trustees agreed.

Schorzman also requested approval of a contract for snow removal services. Trustees agreed to a contract that has Excavation Services helping when necessary, funding of which had already been included in the draft 2022 budget.

The public is invited to meet round two of town manager candidate finalists next week at the Third Street Center on Nov. 17 at 6 p.m.

The final steering committee meeting with Cushing Terrell and the Planning and Zoning Commission regarding the update to Carbondale Comprehensive Plan is on Nov. 18 at 7 p.m. The Zoom link and details are at carbondalegov.org

Tags: #Carbondale #Carbondale Trustees #circulator #RFTA #transportation
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