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In favor of Skico housing

Dear Editor: As residents of the Hopkins Street neighborhood near the Skico’s proposed redevelopment of the Holiday House, we welcome the Skico’s proposal for employee housing at that location. We want our neighborhood to be a lively, vital neighborhood. Not a ghost town like much of the West End. Lively and vital sometimes means less-than-serene. It sometimes means not being able to park right in front of your house. But that is a small price to pay for living in a real neighborhood. We welcomed the addition of the affordable housing project at the Fourth Street end of Hopkins and we welcome it on the First Street end of Hopkins. The objections to the Skico’s proposal voiced at last Monday evening’s council meeting boil down to classic NIMBY: “Affordable housing is great, but not on my block.” “Seasonal housing is great, but not across from my house.” “Young people are great, but not in my neighborhood.” “I should get to park next to my condo but my neighbors should not have cars.” As residents of this neighborhood, we want more affordable housing, not more monster houses. We want more occupied residences, not more second houses sitting vacant for months on end. We want more seasonal workers who will come for a short time and decide to stay on, keeping Aspen a vibrant community. (It was interesting to hear, among the trashing of seasonal workers from the NIMBYs, that both the mayor and the mayor pro-tem first came to Aspen for a season not expecting to stay long term.) Concerns about past problems with noise generated by residents of the Holiday House should be addressed as such and should not be used as an excuse for forcing the Skico to build a marginalized facility. (Our own view is that one source of the noise problem in the past was that the common space, including a barbecue pit, were on Hopkins Street. The housing was so substandard that the residents naturally congregated outside along Hopkins Street to socialize.) One of the objections raised against Burlingame was that its location outside of town will add to sprawl and traffic. Now we’re being told that an in-town project is inappropriate unless it houses fewer residents and preferably does not house seasonal residents. There are two places the Skico can build employee housing: in town where it belongs or downvalley where it contributes to sprawl and traffic. There is no better location for seasonal housing than the Holiday House site and that opportunity should be maximized, not squandered. We hope that the City Council will approve the Skico’s proposal for in-town affordable housing without arbitrarily reducing its occupancy to satisfy cries of NIMBY. Less is not automatically more. Smaller is not always better. Aspen desperately needs housing in town for seasonal workers and we welcome that housing in our neighborhood. Scott Martin and Katherine SandAspen


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