Aspen officials hire public relations firm for entrance public education effort
Aspen City Council on Tuesday approved a nearly $89,000 contract that is part of a public education campaign about the past, present and future of Aspen’s driveway.
The contract with Darnauer-Manifest Communications includes $58,950 for the basic scope of work and $29,539 for additional services for radio and social media support.
Acknowledging that there hasn’t been a public dialogue around Aspen’s entry in nearly two decades, the council agreed last year to earmark $150,000 for a community education campaign about the decision report issued in 1998 by the Colorado Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration.
After years of analysis, public debate and political work, the preferred alternative in the ruling brief identifies the Aspen entrance as a two-lane parkway that passes under the Marolt-Thomas Open Space via a tunnel in cut-and-cover that has a transit component. including a light rail system and terminates at Seventh and Main streets leading to Rubey Park.
The goal of the current public campaign is to create a common understanding in the community of what the Aspen Entry Project is, what elements of it have already been implemented, and what the challenges are ahead, according to City Engineer Trish Aragon and Deputy City Manager Diane Foster. .
While the preferred alternative lay dormant due to public vote denial and conflicting political wills, the decision case was revisited in 2007, but there was no consensus in the community to move it forward. .
Councilor Rachel Richards said at Tuesday’s regular meeting that she, like many residents, is concerned about increasing traffic congestion, particularly in the West End area which is used as an alternative to Main Street in the afternoon rush hour.
“I greatly appreciate the council’s support of $150,000 to essentially bring the Highway 82 entrance decision case up to modern standards,” she said. “We will have the information digitized and online and we can reintroduce it to the many people who are new to our community.”
The public education effort will include a website and library of Aspen entry materials, a print campaign, a community survey and poll, open houses, and videos shown on GrassRoots TV.
The project has three components, including technical analysis, video production services and community education.
Technical analysis is estimated at $24,957. The city has a contract with HNTP Corp. for this portion of the work, which involves obtaining clarification on the current status of the business case, engaging with CDOT, and performing a risk analysis of opening the business case and potential funding for a future solution.
Within the existing budget, $29,280 is being used to develop two videos. One will be a long informative video of about four to six minutes describing the project in depth.
A second abridged version should be no longer than 90 seconds and is a concise summary of the project, which will be formatted for use on social media.
The videos are intended to educate and inform Aspen residents and the public about the proposed Aspen entrance improvements, debriefing and project development.
The third component, which is the $88,489 contract with Darnauer-Manifest Communications, includes updating the website and document library, a print and social media education campaign, open houses, media support and a survey at the end of the public education process.
City officials are interested in resuscitating the conversation about entering Aspen to not only educate new residents and reacquaint longtime Aspenites, but also manage traffic in and out of town and replace an aging bridge. of Castle Creek.
The 60-year-old bridge also serves as an essential emergency exit for both mass evacuation and first responder access to the hospital.
Richards said now is the time to act to make federal infrastructure funds available to local governments and agencies.
“I think if we miss that window, we’ll be living with an old bridge that has maybe 20 years of useful life and we’ll have a hard time figuring out how to deal with it if it’s weight limited or it breaks down. before we have a new bridge in place,” she said.