Consider the fire station proposal
Dear Editor:During the past week I’ve been reading with interest the articles concerning a developer’s acquisition of the Isis Theater property and proposal to acquire the adjoining fire station property and to combine both into a new Aspen arts center for visual and performing arts.Unfortunately, as is the usual case in our valley, the political heat and rhetoric has already begun well before the town’s planning staff, elected officials and the community has had an opportunity to review and examine the developer’s proposal in depth. On its face the proposal appears to include benefits for the entire community. A new fire station on Main Street at no cost to the taxpayers, a much needed arts center in the heart of town, additional desperately needed town and county office space, underground town and public parking facilities, substantial additional employee housing and added commercial/retail space.The fire chief’s nose appears bent out of shape because the proposal comes at an awkward time for him and the fire board. Just ahead of their May 2 election campaign to win over the electorate’s approval of a property tax increase to cover the repayment of bonds to be used for construction of the new North 40 satellite fire station and renovation of the existing Hopkins Ave. fire station.There’s nothing stopping the fire board from putting their bond-funding proposal on the May ballot. If the electorate votes in favor of the property tax increase, the fire board would be in the enviable position of using only a portion of the approved bond funds to construct the new North 40 satellite fire station and, if the developer’s plans pan out and are acceptable to all concerned, Aspen will get a new town fire station at no cost to the taxpayers or the community as well as many other needed amenities.I’d like to suggest something unique in our fair valley. Let’s take a deep breath, relax and rationally consider whether the developer’s proposal might contain the basis of a win-win for all of us.Mel D. BlumenthalSnowmass Village and Santa Monica, Calif.
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A ski season surrounded with uncertainty kicks off on Wednesday. The six inches of new snowfall Tuesday will allow opening of an additional 62 acres on Aspen Mountain, bringing opening-day total to about 160 acres.