What about balance?
December 30, 2008
I just saw a letter published in The Aspen Times. The headline was: “Ski Corp Warns of Overgrowth.”
“It seems a reasonable assumption that in less than 10 years, the Aspen area will have a guest capacity at least twice the capacity of its ski slopes. If this is permitted to happen, the inevitable result will be crowded slopes, long lift lines and poor skiing conditions. What this will do to Aspen’s reputation as one of the world’s finest ski resorts, we leave to your imagination.
“Property owners or developers planning additional investments in lodges, condominiums, etc., should be aware that the Aspen Skiing Corporation feels a responsibility both to the public and to its stockholders to provide its customers with the best and safest skiing conditions possible. The day may come when, in order to accomplish this, we will have to place some sort of limit on the number of skiers we permit to use our facilities in any one day.
“The purpose of this letter is to call your attention to a problem while there is still time to seek a solution to it. It is our hope that a public awareness of the direction in which we are heading may avert what might become an economic disaster for Pitkin County.”
That letter was written in 1970 and signed by D.R.C. Brown, president of the Skico Board of Directors.
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What was the relationship between guest capacity and quality skiing in 1970 and what it is now? Years ago, the Skico used a determinant number of maximum skiers per acre. Have we forgotten such criteria? Or have we stopped caring? In the long run, isn’t this balance the core issue for the sustainable health of the community for locals and visitors alike?
The Community Development Office claims that the 1A proposal “includes much needed lodging at the base of Aspen Mountain.” Really? Is Ajax too empty? Even if there is a need for more lodge rooms, does the community need rooms that cost $1 million-plus each to build ($1,500 per square foot)?
The Community Development Office states that “an additional 1,200 car trips per day is well within the existing road capacity.” What nonsense! Try selling that notion to any valley local trying to come upvalley on a powder day to make first tracks on Ajax!
Finally, the Community Development Department states that, “The project does not increase the physical size of the community.” Do they merely mean it’s OK to go up, just as long as we do not grow out?
Regardless, 300,000 square feet of above-grade building is definitely significant growth. It is, in fact, the size of all the buildings in the Aspen Business Center (ABC).
How can that much construction within Aspen not be considered huge growth?
The community should ask, “Does the development of 1A with 270 ultra-high-priced rooms, 168 employee units, and 1,200 daily car trips bring us closer to or further away from an optimum balance?”