Iselin Park recreation plans win P&Z nod |

Iselin Park recreation plans win P&Z nod

Janet Urquhart

The proposed Iselin Park recreational complex won endorsement from the Aspen Planning and Zoning Commission Tuesday after one last debate that had nothing to do with swimming pools or an ice rink.In the end, the height of the building left the commission divided. The P&Z voted 4-1 to recommend approval of the project to the City Council, and then voted 3-2 to further recommend the building be limited to 48 feet in height.A center tower with a glass face, the dominant architectural feature in the 81,000-square-foot facility, troubled some P&Z members and some neighbors.As designed, the tower rises 58 feet above grade and 45 feet above the level of the parking lot. It will appear 45 feet high from Maroon Creek Road, according to the designers.”I think this is a major issue for me – the sheer size of the building,” said commission member Jasmine Tygre, casting the sole vote against the project. She called the mass of glass “really kind of scary.”She voiced fears about the appearance of the lighted building at night, as well. The lighting consultant for the project, however, said the structure would be lighted in a way to minimize a nighttime glow.Member Steven Buettow said he was “dismayed” by the height and suggested capping the structure at 48 feet.A pair of neighboring residents in the Five Trees subdivision also voiced apprehension about the size of the tower. “That’s taller than the Wheeler Opera House,” said resident Kevin Patrick.Others, though, embraced the design.”If we lose this tower, it becomes a box recreation center,” said local resident L.J. Erspamer, who’s helping lead a fund-raising effort to finance the ice rink that is part of the facility.”I think it’s a gorgeous building,” agreed another citizen.P&Z chairman Bob Blaich noted the height of the nearby Prince of Peace Chapel and said he had no problem with the design.”I think that, considering the use of that building . I think there’s something about the scale of this building that is appropriate,” he said. “For me, it’s not an issue.”Answered to the commission’s satisfaction at yesterday’s third public hearing on the proposal were questions about bus service, parking and coordinated scheduling between the city recreation department and the Aspen School District to make sure events don’t overwhelm the available parking.The Iselin lot will be boosted to about 120 spaces. With nearby parking at the schools campus and parking at the base of Tiehack at Buttermilk, there will be about 655 spaces near Iselin Park. The Tiehack lot will be connected to Iselin with a planned pedestrian bridge over Maroon Creek.The Iselin Park recreation complex, expected to cost nearly $17 million, will include a privately funded ice rink; an indoor leisure pool and competitive lap pool with diving at one end; hot tub; sauna and steam room; climbing wall; snack bar/cafe; a new Aspen Youth Center; and one two-bedroom employee housing unit. The plans also accommodate an outdoor pool/spa area when future funding becomes available.The project will go to the City Council for its first review of the final plans on Feb. 12. Construction is slated to begin this spring.

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