City P&Z may want to tweak plans for Iselin |

City P&Z may want to tweak plans for Iselin

Janet Urquhart

The planned Iselin Park recreational complex may have more employee housing, a bigger ice rink and tweaks to its swimming pool design if the Aspen Planning and Zoning Commission has anything to say about it.The P&Z held what was likely the first of several hearings Tuesday on the city’s proposal for a new recreational facility at the park. A small group of citizens, mostly neighbors of the development, voiced concerns about traffic, parking and the impact of the 76,000-square-foot complex on views in the scenic Maroon Creek Valley.In addition, hockey advocate John McBride pressed the city to build an Olympic-sized rink rather than the planned NHL-sized sheet of ice, while swimming instructor Toni Kronberg repeated her oft-stated desires for alterations in the design of the swimming pools. The city needs a warm-water pool with a deep end, outdoor swimming and a diving well that is separate from the lap pool, according to Kronberg.Both McBride and Kronberg appeared to find a receptive audience on the P&Z.”We are spending so much money on this facility, why not do it right?” said P&Z member Jasmine Tygre.Member Ron Erickson asked for information on the cost of a larger, Olympic-sized rink and suggested the city might consider putting up the money to pay for the wider sheet of ice.”I think we’d miss a great opportunity in Aspen if we didn’t go with an Olympic-sized rink,” McBride told the commission.The Iselin complex, a $17 million project at last estimate, is to include a privately funded $8 million rink, two new swimming pools to replace the aging James E. Moore Pool at the park, a new Aspen Youth Center and one two-bedroom employee housing unit. A lap pool and a leisure pool also are planned.L.J. Erspamer, a member of the group that is working to raise private money to build the ice rink, said the group will meet its goal of $4.3 million by Feb. 1 to proceed with construction of the rink’s shell.The group considered going for an Olympic-sized sheet of ice, but decided against it because it would cost another $850,000 to $1 million, he said.”Costs got us in the gut,” Erspamer said.Steve Bossart, project manager with the city assets management department, cautioned the P&Z against trying to add to the complex, which will already cost more than the city initially planned on spending.”We’re at a point really where, if we try to add things with this facility, we’re going to have to take things away. We’re out of space, we’re out of money,” he said. “You can’t put everything in there for every specific user group.”That didn’t stop a couple of P&Z members from suggesting the project falls well short on employee housing.The city originally planned to build more units as part of the complex, but space and financial considerations altered those plans, according to Bossart.Instead, the city plans to fulfill the housing needs created by the project with already-built housing at its Water Place development.”That’s like taking money out of your right pocket and putting it in your left pocket,” Erickson said. “I’m really concerned with this affordable housing thing. This is a new project and you’re not providing any affordable housing.”Robert Blaich, P&Z chairman, told city staffers he’d like to see photos or computer-generated images to get a better idea of the mass of the building as it relates to its environs.”I would like to see some kind of evidence of the effect of this building on the surrounding terrain,” he said. “We’re dealing with the effect on the total environment out there.”The new complex will be connected to the Aspen schools campus across Maroon Creek Road with a pedestrian bridge.Parking at the park will be increased from about 50 existing spaces to 120 spaces, according to Bossart. In addition, overflow parking will be available on the schools campus and in the Tiehack lot at Buttermilk. Tiehack will be connected to Iselin Park with a new bridge over Maroon Creek that will be part of the Nordic trail system, he said.The Iselin plans will be back before the P&Z for a continuation of last night’s discussion on Jan. 30.

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