A missed opportunity
City Council missed an opportunity when it approved Bob Daniel’s conceptual site plan for the Lift 1A Lodge.
A plan proposed by the first COWOP was not fully vetted. The Aspen Skiing Co., remaining reticent, did not want to build a slow chair from Dean Street, and the developer would have less public land on which to develop if they did.
The Skico’s excuse was the requirement of a variance from the tramway board, as well as HPC. However, variances are given all the time, and if the trade-offs are beneficial to the public, they can be accomplished.
It is very feasible to run a double chairlift up the east side of Aspen Street from Dean Street. Bob Daniel already has this 25-foot public right of way vacated for his own development. Twenty-five feet is all that is required on either side of a slow-moving double chair without a variance. This lift corridor already exists in the proposed site plan.
By having a chairlift on the east side of Aspen Street, the historic grid would be maintained, open views to the mountain protected, and the existing historic slopes of the first FIS competition preserved. A sense of historic respect to the entire area in scale and mass could be maintained.
The Skico’s new quad would not have to be moved up the hill by 200 feet into a conservation zone. The new quad or a triple chair could start exactly where it exists today, possibly keeping the present historic lift tower in place.
The Skier’s Chalet Restaurant could be moved 30 feet to the east to provide additional clearance if needed, or it could be moved down to Willoughby Park next to the museum.
Bob Daniel’s Lift 1A Lodge could then be built on the property he bought: between the Caribou and Cascade to Aspen Street and the Holland House Emes lots. By vacating both Hill Street and Gilbert Street for this development, Bob Daniel would have better ingress and egress for emergency vehicles. He would have an ample development of 100,000 square feet. He might even be able to construct an intimate, European-style “lodge,” which many would like to see.
It does not make sense to continue along the same failed site plan when other plans are available. This plan would engage the Skico, and the trade-offs to the public would be greater. With a chairlift on the east side of Aspen Street, it just might pass the public’s support.
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