Looking gift horse in the mouth | AspenTimes.com

Looking gift horse in the mouth

Aspen Times writer

Dear Editor:

Benevolence is an honorable pursuit that we all can admire.

Take Lowell Meyer, for instance. In order to ensure the development of a project that was coming under increasing scrutiny, Mr. Meyer found it in his heart to give the city the gift of a free visitor center.

This, of course, is such a noble gesture that it may well obscure the fact that Mr. Meyer stands to make several million dollars on the development of his property, which otherwise would have remained largely a pastoral site. With a touch of minor brilliance (not lost on this fool), one major concern regarding the new visitor center has been neatly buried under the guise of a charitable deed.

Lest the mayor and City Council proceed with their plans, I feel it is necessary to revisit some of the other major concerns with this location.

First is the loss of several stately trees, lilac bushes and green space along Main Street which cannot be replaced. Second, there is the loss of portions of the library park, which will become parking for police and sheriff department vehicles displaced by parking spaces for visitor center guests.

Third, there will be major losses of property value for the owners of the Galena St. Lofts. These owners have been proverbially mauled by the Aspen Chamber Resort Association, City Council and the mayor by their collective lack of respect for the conscientious efforts of these owners to ascertain development potential at the site in question.

Perhaps the most important issue is the suitability of this parcel as a visitor center. The intersection at Main and Galena already is a major nuisance, and a new traffic light was recently installed there because of vehicular and pedestrian congestion.

RVs circling the streets waiting for a parking space or idling while our visitors run inside for tourist information only will add to the misery of locals waiting to navigate this section of roadway. Additional traffic here should not be an option.

A recent statement from our City Council notes that should the visitor center not work at this location they will move it. Does this not indicate that there may still be questions regarding the viability of this site? And if it does not work out, then what?

Will City Council make another sweetheart deal with another property owner locked into a stifling situation that may all of a sudden change into a deal worth millions to that person while financially harming others?

Enough uncertainty exists regarding the visitor center that should suggest the planning process slow down to allow further input from additional citizens. I urge others who may have their own concerns to sign one of the many petitions circulating throughout town. If necessary, call me at 920-1763 and I will see to it that a petition is brought to you.

Sue Geist


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