Lift One plans not on Aspen taxpayers’ dime
July 16, 2009
ASPEN – Aspen taxpayers won’t be footing the bill for a second round of master plan meetings for the base of Aspen Mountain’s west side.
The Aspen City Council this week gave approval for a new citizen task force called a COWOP (convenience and welfare of the public) to finish what another one had started last year in the effort to map out a development plan along South Aspen Street.
That effort, which spanned most of the year, cost nearly $1 million for advertising, consultants, meeting rooms, food, city staff time and a facilitator. The city’s contribution toward the effort was nearly $170,000, according to an expenditure report generated by the community development department.
The cost was shared by the four landowners – the city of Aspen, the Aspen Skiing Co., and the two developers, Centurion Partners and the Roaring Fork Mountain Lodge-Aspen. The latter has dropped out of the COWOP process and will likely submit a separate land-use application for a mixed-use lodge to be located partially where the old Holland House was at the base of Lift 1A.
In his June 10 letter stating the formal termination of the COWOP, Bob Daniel, who represents the Roaring Fork Mountain Lodge-Aspen, said the planning costs are too much to bear given there’s been no final outcome.
“While there have been good ideas and concepts that were brought forward, there has been no final approval to date,” Daniel wrote. “During this same time frame, Roaring Fork Mountain Lodge-Aspen has expended over $250,000 in the process for third-party expenses as a participant in the COWOP. There have been significant additional dollars spent for internal staff time, cost of carry of the land and other expenses associated with ownership of the properties.”
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That leaves three properties owners left in the planning process. But city officials said they have no intention of footing anymore of the bill.
John Sarpa, a partner in Centurion, said his company will be paying for a portion of the planning effort. But first, parameters and a timeline need to be established, he added.
The city is advertising for participants on the new COWOP. The council is scheduled to select members of the task force on Monday, July 20.