Aspen needs a lifeboat
In 1971 Elizabeth Paepcke sold (for $10 million and considerations) approximately 2.25 acres to the University of Colorado to use as a medical research facility (The Given Institute). I think it is reasonable to believe that this was done to create a partner in the Aspen Dream.
Somewhere in the process, it had been owned by the University Improvement Corp., then transferred back in 2004 to the University Regents? Probably corporate shenanigans to avoid county regulations. During the last few years they have been having fundraisers, etc., and brainstorming sessions based on how to keep the Given. The decision was they couldn’t afford it, and due to cutbacks in state funding, the money would come in handy.
Their big mistake was always thinking in the I and Me mode, completely ignoring the long, long relationship with the city of Aspen and the Implied Moral Obligation that went along with receiving the land from Elizabeth, and the $500,000 from The Given Institute in New York. If they had even taken the city of Aspen into consideration there would have been a way to conduct a national or international search either for a partner, or another 501 looking for a home. This type of totally self-centered thinking is sinking our planet. From BP to Goldman Sachs, we have been watching the erosion of any corporate morality, and now we see it where morality and responsibility are supposedly being taught.
Another fear driving precedent comes from watching our council changing zoning to benefit out-of-state developers. I mean the Aspen Club as one example. We have good gyms in town, great physical therapists, all of them playing by the rules, nobody asking for bailouts. What if by bailing out an out-of-state LLC, we should force a local business out of town. Who knows what these three members of council would be capable of next. Toxic waste dump on the Given? Anything is possible when you start changing the rules.
There are many reasons to save the Given – historical use of property, neighborhood compatibility, historical preservation of the Aspen Idea, preservation of sight line from ACES, a great old historic building. There are many others, but the bottom line is that our town is being decimated, and we are reaching a tipping point of total disaster. Time for all of us speak out for the Aspen we love.
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