Aspen Jewish center wins approval |

Aspen Jewish center wins approval

Carolyn SackariasonThe Aspen TimesAspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN A former retreat center for children with cancer will now become a Jewish community center, much to the chagrin of residents who live near the facility.The Aspen City Council on Monday unanimously approved converting the former Silver Lining Ranch at the end of Ute Avenue into the Jewish Community Center (JCC).The Jewish Resource Center Chabad of Aspen recently entered into a contract to buy the 14,000-square-foot Silver Lining Ranch. The center will be the venue for a preschool, a Hebrew school, a synagogue, adult education and special events.Opponents and supporters filled council chambers during the public hearing. About a dozen people spoke in favor or against the proposal, although more supporters appeared to fill the room.Opponents argued that Ute Avenue is dangerous and already heavily burdened with traffic generated from the Aspen Club & Spa.Supporters said its a more suitable location than the original facility, which was going to be built on Main Street where the LAuberge DAspen cabins now sit. Supporters also say the former ranch is a perfect setting for children to learn and engage with one another, which is a mission of the JCC.While they acknowledged traffic is a major issue on Ute Avenue, council members agreed the ranch is the right fit for the Jewish center.Im going to vote for this, and this will be one of the best things Ive voted for, said Councilman Jack Johnson shortly before the question was called.Officials agreed that the city must get involved in monitoring speeding, traffic and safety issues along Ute Avenue. Corrective action must be taken, they said.The city owes it to the community to do something with that street, said Councilwoman Jackie Kasabach, adding speed bumps might help control speeding. That part of town is ignored by the police department and the streets department in some ways because its off the beaten path.As a condition of approval, JCC officials agreed to conduct two traffic audits a year once in March and again in July to show that theyve stayed within the estimated 125 and 140 car trips a day, depending on what programs or events are being held.Thats about 100 car trips more than what was generated by the Silver Lining Ranch. Traffic engineers say there are currently 1,500 car trips along Ute Avenue on a daily basis.If the JCC doesnt achieve its stated transportation goals, officials will agree to a hearing before the Aspen Planning and Zoning Commission to review additional traffic demand and how to address it.The Jewish Community Center will attract dozens of people daily. The preschool is expected to serve between 35 and 40 children every day, according to the centers application. Hebrew school would be held two times a week and would host between eight and 10 kids. The teen program is scheduled to be held one night per month and attract 20 to 25 people. Adult education sessions would be held one day and one night a week, attracting as many as 60 people. Religious services, held every Friday and Saturday, also would generate visits from about 60 people.JCC representatives have committed to reducing their impact on Ute Avenue by establishing shuttle pick-up and drop-off sites at Koch Lumber Park for the preschool, and other areas around town for special events.The Jewish Resource Center Chabad of Aspen proposed that if parents dont take advantage of the free shuttle service, theyll be charged a daily fee for dropping off or picking up children at the site.The JCC anticipates about 10 special events for 2010, including Passover, bar mitzvahs, lectures, weddings, Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. Free shuttles will be provided for attendees, and invitations will stipulate that there is no parking at the site. The only parking that will be allowed on site will be for the event hosts, catering staff and others employed for the