Housing vs. golf: Room for both | AspenTimes.com

Housing vs. golf: Room for both

With a definitive voter mandate to build additional housing at Truscott Place, a stranger to Aspen politics might imagine a smooth ride through the planning process.

But the mayor laughing at such a notion pretty much sums up how things are proceeding with the housing proposal.

Last May, more than 75 percent of city voters approved putting housing on a dirt-storage lot between existing affordable housing and the public golf course. Given that the Truscott expansion project’s neighbors are employee-housing residents and a city-owned golf course, planners might be forgiven for not expecting a battle.

It may be tough to see golfers as underdogs, but when set against affordable housing as a community issue, users of the public course aren’t taking any chances.

A conceptual plan for some 100 to 117 additional units at Truscott hasn’t been submitted yet. That, however, hasn’t dissuaded golfers from showing up in force at every planning meeting on the project to voice their concerns about the project’s density and potential traffic impacts.

Advocates for recreation and housing both believe the golf course/Truscott site can accommodate everyone’s needs. It’s just matter of one side not overshadowing the other, say members of the city’s Golf Advisory Committee.

“Traffic is a huge concern for us,” said Mary Woulfe, a member of the advisory group. “We think the density should be determined by the what can be supported in terms of traffic counts and mitigation. But it seems like the reverse is happening. Like, here’s the land, how much housing can we fit, instead of what’s best for the site.

“It’s not an `us against them.’ I’m just concerned about whether we’re looking at what’s best for the site 20, 50 years from now or if it’s about what can be physically done in the next two years,” she said.

For years, plans for Truscott included much more than additional housing. Conceptually, a new golf clubhouse, up to seven tennis courts and an improved traffic infrastructure are all a part of the proposal.

Basically, the recreation bond issue voters OK’d in May will pay for the new courts and clubhouse. And while parks and recreation will split costs for traffic mitigation, the housing program will pick up most of the tab for new roads, trails and possibly a new traffic signal.

“My hope is that a compromise can be reached and I’m confident we can get there, but I hope it can be done without diluting the number of units,” said housing board chairwoman Jackie Kasabach. “I think they [golfers] have some legitimate concerns, but I can’t imagine that the golfing experience is more important than housing.”

The municipal golf course, just west of Aspen, has been self-sustaining for at least 10 years, said golf director Steve Aitken, who hopes the choice won’t come down to housing or recreation.

“I think they’re equally important and in the whole process, we’ll all get exactly what we need,” Aitken said.

“There’s an equal obligation for the city to satisfy recreational needs and housing needs,” agreed Mayor Rachel Richards. “And I think the site’s capable of that.”

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