Mayor explains Burlingame position
September 14, 2003
Clearly, you feel passionately about development of housing at Burlingame Ranch. I know you share this sentiment with many other Aspenites, and I respect your positions.
However, the point in your recent editorials regarding my change of mind to not develop Burlingame appear to be to kill the messenger rather than to analyze or understand the message.
I believe the issue here is not whether I changed my mind, but rather my reasons for that change. Although I presented my reasons at the work session, neither of your papers chose to further discuss, challenge nor understand my decision before you wrote your editorials.
Since my election in 2001, the council has continued to move forward receiving and analyzing cost estimates, and working through infrastructure, road and housing scenarios for Burlingame Ranch. In addition, the city is investigating other, perhaps better, locations to provide significant housing.
As the Burlingame project becomes more real, and with other possibilities for housing, I have come to the conclusion that my original objections regarding cost, sprawl, environmental degradation and off-site impacts were the correct ones, and that Burlingame today cannot work without significant negative impacts on the community.
Also, it is important to note that I stated my position during a work session. This was not a formal vote. That will come after a public hearing. I stated my position at this time in fairness to the process, and to make my position clear before council approves further expenditures on this project.
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In August 2000, a city ballot question asked the voters to authorize the city to enter into a pre-annexation agreement with the Zoline family to develop both free market, and an affordable housing project on Burlingame Ranch.
Nothing required this question to be on the ballot. City Council could have entered into the pre-annexation agreement without a public vote; it could have approved the annexation, and built the housing.
Had the 2000 council done this, there could be housing at Burlingame Ranch today. However, Mayor Richards and the City Council did not do this, but rather put this issue on the ballot.
During this 2000 campaign, I campaigned openly against the Burlingame project. In my 2001 mayoral election, I did state that I would honor the 2000 advisory vote, but I was also clear that I could not support housing projects that were too expensive or created urban sprawl, and I would support further investigation of other opportunities. When I made the commitment to follow the advisory vote, I made it in good faith that I could find a way to make Burlingame work.
Clearly, conditions have changed since 2000. The economy is down, and more information is available about the real costs of the Burlingame Ranch development. Perhaps these are the reasons the three council members who supported Burlingame did not more aggressively push it during the past two years. However, you should ask them.
In a representative democracy, citizens elect their officials certainly to represent them, but in doing so, to use good judgment to make decisions based on sound information. I have never made my decisions about Burlingame without serious deliberation. I have made my decisions with the best interests of the community and its future in mind.
Helen Kalin Klanderud
Mayor of Aspen