Future of Lift One at stake | AspenTimes.com

Future of Lift One at stake

Aspen, CO Colorado

The Lift One neighborhood at the south end of Aspen Street is the cradle of Aspen’s ski era and a community treasure that includes the remnants of this town’s first chairlift and some of its most venerable ski-lodge buildings.

It’s also a neighborhood on the verge of major change, as old, run-down buildings are demolished to make way for new, high-end lodging developments. And that’s why a master-planning process is underway for the area, with dozens of residents, business owners and neighborhood stakeholders attempting to chart a redevelopment course that respects the neighborhood’s heritage.

The master-planning task force has been meeting, debating and negotiating for almost two months and recently agreed on a set of seven overall goals that will guide the remainder of their work. A lot of thought clearly has been put into these goals, and this newspaper supports the general direction they reflect. We also think it’s important that the entire community see what the task force has accomplished and think about it. So here are the task force’s stated goals:

Respect Aspen’s history; integrate the balance of architecture and design through the relationships, mass and scale of historic and proposed structures;

Showcase and promote Aspen’s ski history and traditions;

Provide easy and welcoming access to all users that integrates the Lift One neighborhood and town while minimizing traffic and pavement;

Develop improved lift access and infrastructure that includes the World Cup venue and year-round activities;

Create a “lights-on” mix of lodging, services, amenities and on-site affordable housing to attract visitors and locals while respecting the nature of the neighborhood;

Develop an economically viable and flexible project without imposing burdens on the community;

Create an environmental showcase that exploits on-site energy generation and responsibly uses energy and other resources.

These are laudable and practical goals that deserve community support, but the devil is certainly in the details. Developers and community activists are bound to disagree, for example, on the exact meaning of “respecting the nature of the neighborhood.”

We urge everyone who cares about the Lift One neighborhood, everyone who enjoys the Lift 1A skiing experience or who loves World Cup racing, everyone who remembers the steak dinners at the Skiers Chalet and everyone who looks forward to a new, more vibrant western portal to Aspen Mountain to read the paper in the coming months, talk to their friends and neighbors, and stay abreast of the task force’s work. To find out more about the task force, log onto http://www.aspenpitkin.com/depts/41.

When this master-planning process is over, the future look of Aspen Mountain’s western base will be thoroughly mapped out. The time for discussion is now ” not after the task force’s important work is done.