Develop Burlingame but cut costs |

Develop Burlingame but cut costs

Dear Editor:

During my last run for the City Council I opposed Burlingame. I opposed Burlingame at the time because the 237 units represented a 15 percent increase in population. As a result of that kind of growth, we would need larger schools, water-treatment facilities, roads department, and hospital, and a truly convenient RFTA route. All these things were not included in the cost of Burlingame then and are really not attributed to the Burlingame project now.

So you might expect that after the recent financial debacle that I would continue to oppose additional development at Burlingame. In fact, I feel that there is no such thing as being half-pregnant. Now that Burlingame has been partially developed, we must proceed. I do, however, feel that costs must be cut for the final two phases. As parents, we don’t allow our kids to have everything in the candy store.

Green building has its benefits, but the additional costs are no longer warranted. Lowering affordable-housing category costs is also desirable, but no longer reasonable in light of the fact that people with good intentions so seriously underestimated the overall cost of the project.

In 2005 there were representatives in government with development experience and still they didn’t get it right. Public/private development has proven more successful, because the private sector utilizes business practices that bureaucracy doesn’t have the discipline to execute. One look at Centennial is proof that even a large affordable-housing project can be successful when it’s a collaboration between a government and the private sector.

If our local government really wants additional funding on the fall ballot, then it can’t have every piece of candy in the store. Local government has to prove it can be trusted with our money. Squandering our tax money because so many costs were unanticipated is not a great precedent to asking us for more.

County government should be aware that expecting Aspen’s “rich people” will pay for future bond and tax initiatives will result in choking the middle class. Not everyone who lives in a free-market home is rich. My county taxes went up $200 a month this year, and I’m not the least bit happy with the prospect of them going up further to pay for county office buildings, roads and rivers. I’m even less thrilled with the reality that food and clothing will cost more if sales taxes are increased. Gasoline will quickly top $5 a gallon, and health-insurance costs are oppressive. Two hundred dollars a month would be a serious amount to anyone living in affordable housing, but it also is an attention-getter for middle-class residents.

In light of the lack of financial prudence on the Burlingame project, I have mixed feelings about voting to give our local government more of my hard-earned money.

Cliff Weiss