Avon will heat streets where its needed most | VailDaily.com

Avon will heat streets where its needed most

Matt Terrell
Vail CO, Colorado

AVON ” Avon will install snowmelt on its future Main Street, but it will only turn up the heat where it’s needed most after a snowstorm.

These downtown sidewalks and plazas will be heated with the leftover, excess heat created by the nearby wastewater treatment plant.

The town has long debated the environmental consequences of installing a snowmelt system on its new Main Street, which will be the centerpiece of Avon’s soon-to-be redeveloped downtown. Snowmelt can make walking a lot safer, but it also requires burning fossil fuels and dumping tons of earth-warming carbon dioxide in the air.

The Town Council had given a tentative “yes” to snowmelt earlier this year, but couldn’t decide on exactly how much tubing to install and where on Main Street to use it. The debate centered around whether snowmelt should just be installed on sidewalks and plaza areas, or if the street itself, which will have one-way car traffic, should be heated as well.

Not heating the street would mean a lower carbon footprint, but also would mean having noisy snowplows running through all the time ” which the council doesn’t really want in its supposedly pleasant, pedestrian friendly and vibrant new downtown.

The Town Council, acting as the town’s Urban Renewal Authority, decided Tuesday to install enough underground tubing to melt snow in just about all areas of Main Street. But the town would only heat a limited amount at a time in high-priority areas, depending on how much energy is available from the wastewater treatment plant.

While the town will be installing about 90,000 square feet of snowmelt tubing, perhaps only 65,000 square feet would be used at a time, putting out about 113 pounds of carbon dioxide a year. If the town were to use a traditional snowmelt system, without excess heat from the wastewater treatment plant, the carbon footprint would be much higher.

The snowmelt system would be organized by “zones,” and when one zone is clear of snow, it could be turned off, and the energy could be used to heat another, lower priority area. Town planners say this also will give Main Street flexibility to adjust to changes in snowfall in different seasons, or to be able to turn off certain areas until a new development comes around.

Most of the council was excited about this final snowmelt proposal. Councilman Rich Carroll said this was a good solution to the snowmelt debate, but wants to see how much it will actually end up costing before committing fully.

Councilman Brian Sipes said he was in favor of the snowmelt proposal, but wanted to encourage future town councils to only use the energy made available by the wastewater treatment plant and to not ratchet up the snowmelt.

Dave Dantas was the only council member opposed to using snowmelt on Main Street. He was after the most environmentally friendly option ” using captured heat from the wastewater treatment plant to heat the recreation center and other town buildings, and not even bother with the snowmelt.

This would drastically reduce carbon emissions on already existing buildings instead of creating something new that requires energy.

“I think it’s a luxury we don’t need,” Dantas said.

Staff Writer Matt Terrell can be reached at 970-748-2955 or mterrell@vaildaily.com.

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