Burlingame has voters angry, confused
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
ASPEN ” Some voters are angry about the city’s $73 million blunder with the Burlingame Ranch affordable housing project. And some are confused.
But overwhelmingly, Aspen voters express a collective sentiment that the city of Aspen must continue to build affordable housing for people who work here.
“Employee housing brings what I think is the backbone of a town’s families,” said Pat Newkam of Aspen.
“Why shouldn’t hardworking people be able to live in Aspen?” asked Aspenite Richard Harris.
Nonetheless, many Aspenites weren’t willing to let the city off the hook for a housing project that saw a final subsidy six times higher than what voters were initially told. In information provided to voters before the project was approved, the city failed to include the cost of land, infrastructure, design and engineering. Inflation and changes made to the project by the City Council also drove up costs.
Newkam suggested the city’s Burlingame blunder was symptomatic of a larger fiscal irresponsibility. In short, he doesn’t think the city spends its money as carefully as it ought to.
“I just think their view at City Hall is kind of whacked,” he said.
Walking through the downtown core, Marion Ferrara remembered that when the first phase went to a vote, many Aspen residents thought it would end up costing more than the city said.
Ferrara lives in Basalt now, but she was an Aspen resident when the Burlingame Ranch project was passed. She voted against it.
Several voters expressed a desire to understand the issue more clearly, and some said they didn’t understand it at all.
“I would love to comment, but I don’t know enough about why these numbers are escalating to give an opinion,” said Aspen resident Robert Barron, watching soccer practice at Rio Grande Park.
Outside Aspen’s post office, Diana Beuttas said that she’d like to spend more time studying the details of the project. She wanted to understand the extra expenses and whether there was anything that could be eliminated to keep costs down.
But she was clear that, in general, she was very much in favor of affordable housing.
And despite his strong words for the city’s management of the project, Newkam noted that it would be a shame if voters in November rejected the second phase of the project. He worried that the combination of the gaffe and a downturn in the economy this summer could kill the bond issue.
“I know a lot of people who were looking forward to moving in there and I don’t think it’s going to happen because of this,” he said.
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
Readers around Aspen and Snowmass Village make the Aspen Times’ work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.
Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.
Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.
Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.
User Legend: Moderator Trusted User
Ten years after plans for a diversion route for the Colorado River around Windy Gap Reservoir outside of Granby was finalized, the project is a go. A consortium of state and commercial water entities announced Monday that in late June or early July, construction crews will begin excavating dirt from land adjacent to U.S. Highway 40, to fill in part of the existing reservoir and dredge a new path for the Colorado River to flow around it.