ACES has concerns about pool plan
ACES board members are questioning but not yet opposing a plan to build a swimming pool overlooking the Hallam Lake nature preserve the nonprofit organization is charged with preserving.But opposition may yet blossom, said John Katzenberger, the president of the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies board. The board met recently to discuss the matter, but it did not take a formal vote.Whether the ACES board will meet again to debate taking a definitive position on the pool proposal will probably depend on the city’s reaction to the plan, Katzenberger said Wednesday.He said ACES Executive Director Tom Cardamone is sending a letter to city Planning Director Chris Bendon about the pool proposal. Katzenberger said Cardamone also will submit a letter to the editor of The Aspen Times, laying out in detail the board’s present stance regarding the pool proposal.Jonathan Lewis, owner of the home that once belonged to Aspen icons Walter and Elizabeth Paepcke, submitted the proposal to the city.According to the plan, Lewis wants to build a 25-foot pool at the back of the property, at the edge of a bluff overlooking ACES and Hallam Lake, with a subterranean tunnel leading from Lewis’ house to the pool. The tunnel would end at a staircase leading up to the pool level, and the staircase would be protected by a canopy made of transparent material and lit up at night.It is the lighted nature of the canopy, as well as the potential for noisy parties that could disturb the tranquility of Hallam Lake, that has the board concerned, Katzenberger said.The letter to the city, he said, will outline some suggested changes to Lewis’ plans, such as moving the staircase canopy cover further from the bluff, on the other side of the pool from its proposed location.”If they can’t be remedied,” Katzenberger said, “then we would be against it.”ACES and the Hallam Lake preserve were largely the creation of Elizabeth Paepcke, who, along with her husband, is credited with revitalizing Aspen in the 1940s and ’50s. It features a small lake surrounded by relatively wild lands between the bluff and the Roaring Fork River, where ACES conducts a variety of environmentally oriented programs and tours.”The board has serious concerns about several aspects of the proposal,” he said. “There are some issues and a need for clarification.”Chief among these issues, he said, is how it fits into the Environmentally Sensitive Area designation the city created some 15 years ago to protect the lake and its surroundings.Katzenberger said the designation “doesn’t get specific” about the impacts of light and noise from a nearby residential area but contains “just a general statement. Issues related to noise and light are mentioned, but there’s nothing you can measure.”He said that the ACES board may move to modify the Environmentally Sensitive Area designation in the future to deal with this “deficiency,” but he conceded that the pool plan will be judged under the existing criteria.The pool proposal is set to go to the city planning and zoning commission on March 21. Bendon could not be reached on Wednesday regarding the letter from ACES.John Colson’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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