Aspen Art Museum measure fails at the polls

Wyatt Haupt Jr.
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN ” Voters defeated a ballot measure Tuesday that would have cleared the way for the Aspen Art Museum to negotiate with the City Council for the possible acquisition of the former youth center site.

A total of 902 people cast ballots in favor of Question 1, while 1,471 voted against the measure, according to unofficial results from the Aspen City Clerk’s office.

“I’m really glad,” said Stacy Forster, who owns and operates Taster’s pizza parlor at the base of the youth center site. “I was pretty scared because eventually it would have put us out of business.”

Forster was referring to a plan that called for the old youth center to be knocked down, in order to make room for the museum project. That would have also included the roughly 1,300-square-foot space that houses Taster’s.

The former youth center is located between the Pitkin County Library and the Pitkin County jail, and is used as community space more commonly known as the Rio Grande Room. The upper floors rent for $25 an hour.

City records show the room is rented by nongovernment entities about once a day for community events ranging from Alcoholics Anonymous meetings to social dance events.

Proponents of Question 1 were hoping to buy the site along with adjacent properties so a 30,000-square-foot museum could be built. The museum would have included six galleries, storage space, offices, a boardroom, workshop space, a library, a cafe, a bar, a restaurant and a loading dock.

About 65 percent of the building would have been below ground to shelter the artwork from natural light. The building would have stretched from the end of Galena Street to Rio Grande Place, based on a project design.

Museum Director and Chief Curator Heidi Zuckerman Jacobson said supporters of the measure “were extremely disappointed in results” of the election.

“We feel that sadly Aspen and its citizens have been denied a real opportunity. And for those that voted ‘yes,’ we thank them,” she said.

Zuckerman Jacobson did not say whether there was a backup plan in place. The existing museum is located along South Mill Street and measures about 7,000 square feet.

“We focused all of our energy and attention trying to build a civic amenity ” to try and benefit all of the people of Aspen,” she said. “We are really disappointed.”

While Zuckerman Jacobson was noncommittal about what lies ahead for the museum, Forster believes the project has a future ” just not at the youth center site.

“This probably is not their last stop. They do have a lot of support,” he said.


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