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Art museum plan rushed? Hardly

Dear Editor:

A new Aspen Art Museum facility within the heart of our town’s civic center has been contemplated by Aspen’s citizens, the city of Aspen and the AAM for almost 10 years now. And yet, some misinformed critics of the museum’s plans for a new building claim that the process has been rushed and that the upcoming vote to permit our City Council to negotiate a sale of the former youth center is premature. In fact, the appropriateness of this site for a new museum building evolved through countless public meetings and was strongly supported by the citizens and council members that participated in the lengthy, thoughtful, deliberate and transparent public process.

The Civic Master Plan ” begun in 2000 and adopted by the City Council in 2006 as a regulatory document ” acknowledges the relocation of the AAM to a downtown location as a priority. That same document clearly identifies the challenges the current site poses to both current operations as well as any potential expansion. The establishment of a new AAM facility on the former youth center site achieves the desired goals and relevant objectives of the Civic Master Plan.

More recently, the Zupancis Galena (ZG) Master Plan ” again, an overtly transparent process ” was implemented to seek public input and build consensus on civic and cultural enhancements for our community. Though never adopted, the clear outcome of this process was to confirm the appropriateness of relocating the AAM to the former youth center site. This result was somewhat unexpected as another parcel had long been thought to suit the museum. However, the benefits of activating Galena Plaza as a dynamic link between the downtown core and the recreational spaces of Rio Grande Park became evident to the ZG Master Plan participants. The ultimate consensus of the ZG participants was that a new building for the AAM should be located on the former youth center site.

As a citizen and contributor to the 10 years of public planning outlined above, I believe it is vital that the community be made aware of the long-standing efforts of many active participants ” your friends and neighbors ” that lead us to the election this May. It is important to acknowledge that the affirmative support of Question 1 initiates more detailed steps in the public process ” conditions of the land sale by City Council and the final building design through the land-use application ” and that additional opportunities for public input will occur along the way.

I urge the Aspen community to consider the facts about the new Aspen Art Museum, the public planning process and ballot Question 1 before making up your mind.

Gilbert Sanchez

Aspen


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