Lift ‘1B’ is the answer
March 20, 2017
I have discussed the future of the 1A side of Aspen Mountain with a lot of people. Some want nothing done there at all. Most want some sort of hotel with public vibrancy. The recurring subject is a new lift. I'm calling it 1B. Extending the lift down to Dean Street is the most commonly mentioned desire for the west side of Aspen Mountain, and it is the best plan for Aspen.
Before getting into the weeds on the details, we need to step back to envision the future and remember the past. Aspen has its roots in silver mining. After the 1893 silver crash Aspen nearly died. What brought new life was Goethe bicentennial in 1949 and the birth of skiing. If there is any truth in the desire to keep Aspen, Aspen and preserve Aspen character, it is in skiing. A sustainable economy and environment must be our goal. Basing our future on construction and real estate is not environmentally sustainable. The sustainable future is based on skiing and tourism. Improving the west portal of Aspen Mountain is a foundation to insuring the life of skiing in Aspen.
We have one chance to get this right. What happens at the west side of Aspen Mountain will last a lifetime. There are a lot of "moving parts," as planners and developers seem to like saying. If all the land between 1A and Dean Street were owned by one person, if there were no buildings on the land, and if there were no restrictions on the land use, it would be a no-brainer. Any government and any developer could bring 1B to Dean Street and build a hotel the town would love and accept. That is not the case. If the parties involved do not do everything within their power to fulfill the vision of the people of Aspen, they have collectively and individually failed.
I openly plead with and challenge the mayor to represent the city government, the Brown group, Aspen Skiing Co., the Gorsuch group and the Dolinsek family to work together to accomplish something big for Aspen. If the stakeholders focus only on their self-interests, it is to the detriment of the community. Let us get 1B down to Dean Street and go from there.