Analogy is just plain silly
August 20, 2002
Your recent editorial, “Club members not playing by the rules” in the Aug. 10-11 edition of The Aspen Times Weekly, argues that the Aspen community is a country club of those who own real estate (in your mind made up mostly of out-of-town “power elite” who are rich) and that the “members” of the club shouldn’t use their money to bring development to Aspen and surroundings that does not contribute to its charm.
You identify three individuals by name who have supposedly violated this “country club covenant” and thereby have despoiled Aspen with projects such as the Highlands, the Divide and nearby projects and the Hyatt Grand Aspen (pending).
In an ironic note that seems hypocritical in the context of your criticisms, you note also, “And we’ll build employee housing so that the country club has a work force.” Your analogy to a country club and its members being responsible for the architectural ailments of Aspen is plain silly.
The projects that you have chosen to criticize did not get built without the community (through its legal representatives) being behind the projects every step of the way. Who wrote the zoning laws, who wrote the planning commission rules and regulations, who granted the permits, who elected the governing officials of the pertinent jurisdictions?
I didn’t. And I am, by your definition, a member of the country club, although I’m not the “power elite” you deride.
I’ve only been reading your paper regularly for the approximate two and a half years my husband and I have owned local real estate, so I do not know the positions you took on projects such as the Highlands and the Divide. I doubt, however, that you were leading a charge to deny permits or to modify them.
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As to your comments on the proposed Hyatt Grand being a “big box designed to maximize the current market for timeshares,” I would like to venture a guess that never in his least creative moment could David Bonderman come up with a building plan as horrific and ugly as the employee housing recently imposed on the Aspen Municipal Golf Course. (And you had the audacity to point out early on in your editorial that “we’ll build employee housing.”)
The irony of that comment has to be apparent to those who recognized the golf course as one of those rare and special public amenities that in many key respects is every bit as wonderful as any private golf course.
Yet, when “the community” had the controls for this project, they managed to construct housing that is shamefully ugly and ruined beautiful views. You took at least one public amenity that is first class and degraded it. (My objection is not that such housing was built, but that it is so “charmless,” as you might say.)
Rather than argue that people should not try to make money in Aspen, why don’t you try to figure out where the system went wrong, if in fact it did go wrong in any case other than at the golf course.
You can start by taking a look at the one big project now in the works, the new Base Village at Snowmass Village, and rather than Monday-morning quarterbacking several years down the line, come up with constructive comments so that some of the problems you see can be avoided.
Remember, most of the members of the country club don’t have any vote – you do.
La Jolla, Calif., and Snowmass Village