ACRA to connect with second-home owners
Two new committees are in the works for the Aspen Chamber Resort Association board of directors one for keeping members aware of local hot-button issues, and one for Aspen residents who live here part time.New board member Jeanette Darnauer, who owns local public relations company Darnauer Group, will chair the Public Affairs Committee charged with identifying public policy issues important to ACRAs membership.ACRA Board Chairman Rick Jones said the location of the ACRA visitor center in Aspen is high on that list of issues. Private landowners have received approval to redevelop the corner of Main and Galena streets with a multiuse building that would include the visitor center and new ACRA offices. Even though City Council passed an ordinance granting approval for the project, a referendum petition will put the issue on this Novembers ballot.Darnauer said the public affairs committee will be about educating ACRA members on issues such as the visitor center. The committee will be open to interested ACRA board members.The general consensus among the board of directors was that the public affairs group not support individual candidates during elections, but instead focus on issues that impact ACRA.A new committee that represents part-time Aspen residents, the Seasonal Residents Committee, will be chaired by Ed Foran, a real estate broker with Mason & Morse. Everyone at this table has friends and family spending more and more time here, and theyre passionate about this community, Foran said. He said hed like to include second-home owners in discussions with the committee, to find out what they like about Aspen and what they hear about Aspen in their hometowns.And as Foran noted, seasonal residents are often ambassadors to Aspen they come, they see the town and they report back to their other communities where they own homes. I think their input is key we want them to go back and talk about positive things happening here.There were some doubts shared among board members about trying to represent seasonal residents, whose views toward change in Aspen are often minimalist.They do have a voice theyre frequently seen before Aspen City Council as a conservative force. They want to maintain their image of Aspen, said board member Stan Clauson.ACRA President Hana Pevny said seasonal residents do have a history of getting a negative rap from locals in town, but that theyre also major contributors to the local economy and nonprofits and bring a wealth of life experiences.We can tap into that knowledge, she said. As a chamber of commerce and a nonprofit, ACRA is classified as a 501 (c) (6), which means that it is exempt from federal taxes, but it cannot receive tax-deductible donations. Pevny said ACRA is considering setting up a 501 (c) (3), which would allow people to make tax deductible donations to a portion of the chamber meant to educate seasonal residents about issues the chamber is working on.The section of the Internal Revenue Code that designates a nonprofit a 501 (c) (3) is meant solely to exempt organizations that are charitable, religious, scientific, literary or educational in nature from federal taxes. With that designation in place, seasonal residents would get to make a tax-deductible donation to Aspen, and ACRA would find a financial way to get input from those residents, Pevny said.And with a slew of timeshares coming on, getting input from people who spend time in Aspen a few times a year will be increasingly important, Jones said. Seasonal residents want to feel the love, he said. But it has to be a fit from both sides ours and theirs.Board members Shae Singer and Mayor Helen Klanderud expressed interest in joining the committee. Klanderud said often she feels conservative views coming from longtime locals more than second-home owners.I think if not for seasonal residents, conservatism would be alive and well, because it really comes from a lot of our residents, she said. Theyre not older, but theyve been here for a long period of time. Seasonal residents want this place to be vital.Naomi Havlens e-mail address is email@example.com
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