Will Avon melt Main St.? | VailDaily.com

Will Avon melt Main St.?

Matt Terrell
Vail, CO Colorado

AVON, Colorado ” The town council will decide Tuesday if Avon’s future, pedestrian-friendly Main Street will have snowmelt.

For months, the town council has struggled with the environmental consequences of installing a snow-melt system in the soon-to-be redeveloped downtown. The system would keep streets mostly snow and ice free, but also require burning fossil fuels and dumping tons of earth-warming carbon dioxide in the air.

With design wrapping up on Main Street, the council has to decide if the snowmelt piping should be added, and if so, exactly how much.

The council gave a tentative “yes” to snowmelt in March, but only if it was minimized, and if it was done in an environmentally responsible manner. The council was

encouraged and intrigued by a proposal to use the leftover, excess heat created by the wastewater treatment plant a couple blocks away to heat the streets instead of gas-fired boilers.

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It takes a lot of energy to treat used water and solid waste, and there’s a lot of heat that’s generated but not reused. By capturing this heat and transferring it to a chemical mixture that would be pumped to downtown Avon beneath the streets, the sidewalks could have snowmelt without nearly as much pollution.

The excess heat could even be used to heat the Avon Recreation Center.

Such a system could cost around $3.68 million to install, but would have a drastically lower carbon footprint than a traditional snowmelt system and nearly eliminate energy costs at the recreation center. An update on this proposal will be presented at the council work session in the afternoon.

Town staff is recommending that snowmelt tubing be installed on Lettuce Shed Lane, some 8-foot-wide sections on either side of Main Street and in some plaza areas ” a total of 64,000 square feet. This would all be installed with the intention of using heat from the wastewater treatment plant to power the snowmelt system.

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

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