Debate over free art, free pizza bubbles up in Aspen |

Debate over free art, free pizza bubbles up in Aspen

Katie Redding
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN ” The debate about the sale of city land to the Aspen Art Museum is heating up.

On Tuesday, Aspen political gadfly Toni Kronberg distributed leaflets across Aspen’s employee housing neighborhoods encouraging a “no” vote on the ballot question. The leaflets argue the museum’s loading dock would be where Taster’s Pizza currently stands ” and promise free pizza to those who walked down to see the site.

Taster’s owner Stacy Forster also produced a set of advertisements himself that offer 20 percent off, and a reminder to “vote ‘no’ on the Art Museum!!!” Forster said his children are distributing the leaflets throughout Aspen.

“I’m not trying to do too much in terms of persuading people one way or another ” if it’s really what citizens want, I don’t want them to change their minds based on my needs,” Forster said. “I’d just like them to get a feel for what we do, just so they can make a good decision, an educated decision.”

The Aspen Art Museum responded Thursday with an advertisement in The Aspen Times mocking the flier: “How Cheesy: Free art or free pizza. Vote Yes on 1.”

On Tuesday of this week, the museum also put out its display of models of the proposed art museum, alongside a screen looping a video of the architect, Shigeru Ban, as well as a tub of blue buttons expressing support for the project. Ban has also been invited to present his plan to the Aspen public at a series of meetings between April 15-17.

Meanwhile, on the Saturday letters page of The Aspen Times, Elizabeth Milias and mayoral candidate Marilyn Marks, writing as their alter ego The Red Ant, posed this question: “Should Mayor Ireland have recused himself from the museum negotiations and council discussions after his niece was granted a college scholarship by the museum?”

Ireland responded in Thursday’s Aspen Times, criticizing what he called “the clear implication of the attack,” ” that his niece did not receive the aid because of her need or ability but because the Aspen Art Museum was trying to bribe him for support.”

On yet another front, mayoral candidate Marks requested that the city release its appraisal of the property; she was denied.

Marks, who said she loves the design of the new museum, argues the public should not be asked to vote on this matter until it knows the general parameters of not only price, but also issues such as mass, scale, housing mitigation, environmental concerns and traffic.

“Only then will we have the information necessary to know whether we want to sell a piece of public property for the community benefit of a phenomenal new art museum,” she wrote in an email.

Meanwhile, the organized opposition to the museum’s plan, a group of Aspenites calling themselves “Be Informed,” also recently began distributing fliers arguing that the May 5 vote is “premature and possibly reckless.”

Most of the group originally organized to fight the proposed development of two large hotels in Aspen, known as Lift 1A, explained Aspenite Junee Kirk.

Several of them use the Rio Grande room, and would miss it, she said.

“We’ve been here a long time and we call our friends and we talk,” she said.

“We have no problem if people disagree with us. We just want them to disagree with us based on fact,” said Zuckerman-Jacobson, of the ongoing debate about the museum.

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