Lift One’s fate belongs in City Council’s hands
December 12, 2008
Six months ago a task force composed of a cross section of local residents began the painstaking task of creating a development that would appease the most cynical of Aspenites. Members of the task force included developers, skiers, elected officials and neighbors of the proposed development at the western base of Aspen Mountain.
The task force members are to be commended for their accomplishment ” known as the Lift One Master Plan ” that was scheduled for consideration at Monday’s Aspen City Council meeting. Council members ultimately decided to delay a decision on the plan, because there are still details they do not support.
The significance of this project cannot be played down; it stands to be one of the largest developments in Aspen’s history. It would span more than 300,000 square feet of both residential and commercial space, and the price tag now stands at $500 million. There would be two hotels, affordable housing, retail space and a ski museum, among other amenities.
There are plenty of opinions about the project. The camp in support claims that this dilapidated area of town needs a major boost, and the city at large suffers from a shortage of hotel rooms. The detractors argue that the huge, upscale Lift One proposal is out of character with this charming chunk of Aspen.
We will not express our opinion on the merits of the Lift One proposal today. We plan to do so sometime before the Jan. 14 meeting, when the City Council is scheduled to decide on the project.
And that’s what we urge the council members to do. The destiny of Lift One must be decided by the four elected City Council members who are reviewing the application (one councilman, Jack Johnson, has recused himself because of a conflict of interest). We cannot fathom this project going to Aspen voters; it is simply too complex and involves too many personalities to be passed on to the citizenry.
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Theoretically the City Council could register a “conditional” vote on the project, meaning that council members would make a non-binding decision on the project and then pass the issue to voters for the final say.
But we view that as a cop-out, and implore the City Council to have its formal, binding say on Lift One. What ever the verdict, the council’s decision will be an unpopular one with many residents, and some citizens may choose to take the matter to a public referendum. But Aspen elected these council members to make the tough decisions. And the Lift One application, a citizen-generated plan for an important neighborhood at the base of our flagship ski mountain, calls for one.