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Two stories published in the last week kicking off the winter season for Aspen Journalism represented important new collaborative frameworks for our organization.
It was a pleasure to feature the writing of Andrew Travers, a longtime local journalist, on assignment for our social justice desk covering the local housing crisis. Travers traced the evolution of Habitat for Humanity of the Roaring Fork’s efforts to provide workforce housing, beginning with the 27-unit Basalt Vista project that broke ground in 2018 representing a move away from the nonprofit’s traditional volunteer-driven, one-house-at-a-time model. Now, the organization is looking to become a manufacturer of lower-cost modular homes and is seeking investment to stand up a factory in the Colorado River Valley. It’s a reflection of the dire nature of the local housing crisis, and Travers’s reporting, published on our website and in Sunday’s Aspen Daily News, included visiting with a family that was on the verge of leaving the valley until they won a chance to purchase a Basalt Vista unit.
Also over the Thanksgiving weekend, we joined forces with Aspen Journalism’s founder and former editor and executive director Brent Gardner-Smith, now with Aspen Public Radio, to publish a look into the status of the two hotel projects anchoring the Lift One Corridor project slated for the base of Aspen Mountain. Ever since the news last March that an entity connected to Vladislav Doronin’s OKO Group had purchased the land and entitlements for Gorsuch Haus — one of the two hotel projects — it’s been an open question how the new ownership would affect the fate of the interconnected project that includes a new ski lift replacing Ajax’s venerable Lift 1A.
When we began reporting on this story back in September, the adjacent hotel developers of the Lift One Lodge were telling the city of Aspen — also a major stakeholder in the project with 2.5 acres of parkland that will be incorporated into the corridor — that they could not forecast the Gorsuch Haus’ construction timing. By mid-November, that messaging had changed, with Lift One Lodge telling us in a statement also issued on behalf of OKO Group that construction timing on the two projects “may be more aligned than appeared to be the case several months ago.” That matters because building the projects more or less simultaneously looks like the only way to keep the number of ski seasons Aspen Mountain will operate without a chairlift in the Lift One neighborhood down to one.
Catching up on all the news since our last edition of the Roundup, our water desk had the scoop about an effort to align all Roaring Fork Valley municipal water providers on a common set of outdoor-watering standards. In these last few years of drought-influenced conditions, each provider has had its own policies guiding users on when to water and how best to conserve. The Ruedi Water and Power Authority is looking to replace that patchwork with a valley-wide framework, and earlier this month signed off on the standards that will now be proposed for adoption before each local governing body. If approved, the policy would limit outdoor watering valley wide to between 6 p.m. and 9 a.m. three days a week, with different designated days falling to even- and odd-numbered addresses.
And from our ongoing data desk projects, Tracking the Curve is keeping us updated with weekly posts on the latest local COVID-19 numbers, while the Data Dashboard is crunching the numbers on local snowpack, streamflows, temperatures, hotel occupancies and more to keep you in the know.
Thanks for taking the time to read this work, and for supporting its production. We couldn’t do it without you.
– Curtis Wackerle
Editor and executive director
Organization seeks a scalable answer to Roaring Fork Valley housing crisis after building neighborhoods in Basalt and Rifle
By Andrew Travers | November 27, 2022
With $2.1 million in seed money, Schwartz told potential investors in a Nov. 17 pitch in Carbondale, Habitat could open its own modular manufacturing plant and build more than 600 affordable homes here in the next five years.
Doronin’s OKO Group contributing to construction sequencing discussions with Lift One Lodge, SkiCo, city
By Curtis Wackerle and Brent Gardner-Smith | November 25, 2022
How well-coordinated the construction sequencing would be between the new developer and the neighboring Lift One Lodge has been an open question. But the parties say they have made significant progress since September.
Guidance focused on time of day and day of week
By Heather Sackett | November 19, 2022
In an effort to unify the Roaring Fork watershed, a local agency has developed valley-wide outdoor watering standards that its board members hope will be adopted by municipal water providers.
Lake Powell’s elevation reached 3,528.2 feet, or 3.2 feet above target threshold
By Laurine Lassalle | November 29, 2022
• Snowpack at Indy Pass reached nearly 77% of average on Nov. 27, while McClure Pass was at 140% of average.
• The Fork ran at 103% of average below Maroon Creek and at 51% of average at Stillwater on Nov. 27.
• High air temperatures reached 46°F on Nov. 22, while low temperatures got as low as 3°F on Nov. 19.
Garfield County has reported 52 new COVID-19 cases since last week. Eagle County has added 28 cases, while Pitkin County has recorded 22 cases since Nov. 23.
By Laurine Lassalle | December 1, 2022
Snowmass Village wastewater facility had the highest load of virus in the valley with 277,000 copies per liter on Nov. 21. Glenwood Springs recorded 235,200 copies on Nov. 21, down from 246,000 copies on Nov. 17, while 121,000 copies were found in Aspen’s sewage on Nov. 28. Basalt’s latest record shows 45,500 copies on Nov. 15 after a peak of 604,000 copies on Nov. 1. COVID hospitalizations are on the upward trend.
Our nonprofit mission is to produce good journalism for people who care about Aspen, the Roaring Fork Valley, and the upper Colorado River basin.