Neighborhood group resurrects in time for Aspen City Council elections |

Neighborhood group resurrects in time for Aspen City Council elections

Joggers ease down the pedestrian pathway Sunday on West Hopkins Avenue. Friends Of Shadow Mountain, a collection of residents in the neighborhood, has reformed to combat development they believe is out of character with the area and have a voice in the May municipal elections.
Rick Carroll/The Aspen Times |

A neighborhood group that previously contested some development projects in Aspen is resurrecting itself in advance of the May municipal elections.

Friends of Shadow Mountain, an assortment of residents who live on or near West Hopkins Avenue, has been sending out emails in an effort to reorganize and use its clout to stave off future developments such as the Four Seasons project in the event the proposal re-emerges.

“We want to be organized to influence and oppose commercial and high-density development near West Hopkins Avenue, South Seventh Street, the Midland Trail and the Pedestrian Bikeway,” reads the email, which notes its mission is to line up 1,000 supporters before the election.

The group, which originally formed in 2003 to advocate the Midland Trail formation and oppose development on select Shadow Mountain parcels, plans to have a voice in the May 2 City Council contests in which incumbents Art Daily and Ann Mullins are being challenged by Ward Hauentstein, Skippy Mesirow and Torre.

The field could get larger, with March 13 as the deadline for candidates to submit 25 petition signatures to the City Clerk’s Office to gain entry on the ballot.

As of Friday, no one had officially declared a candidacy against Mayor Steve Skadron, who is seeking his third and final two-year term.

“This is a rallying call because we see it coming,” Michael Behrendt said last month of future development in the neighborhood. Behrendt, who owns the St. Moritz Lodge on West Hyman Avenue, is leading the effort with Hopkins Avenue condo owner Steve Goldenberg.

“Should something occur, we want to be in the immediate position to oppose it,” Goldenberg said last week.

In September, Florida-based Cisneros Real Estate, which owns the three-parcel property at 705 W. Hopkins Ave., withdrew its proposal to annex the land into the city for the development of a Four Seasons Hotel. The 6.6-acre property is currently zoned residential in Pitkin County, and sits at the end of West Hopkins Avenue that serves as the gateway to various paved and unpaved trails, as well as popular road-bike routs to Ashcroft and the Maroon Bells.

Friends of Shadow Mountain was dormant when the Four Seasons possibility surfaced in 2016. However, an offshoot of the group called Look After Aspen made noise in opposition.

Goldenberg said he expects the Four Seasons proposal to come back at some point. There also is the pending redevelopment of the Boomerang Lodge at 500 W. Hopkins Ave.

Most of the Boomerang structure, which was built roughly 50 years ago, was razed in 2007. The owner still has rights, which are good through 2018, to build a 45,000-square-foot condo hotel that would include 47 guest units, five free-market residences and two employee-housing units.

That project has been stalled by dried-up financing from the Great Recession as well as a lawsuit by neighbors, of which Goldenberg was a part of, to halt its development. Goldenberg’s group lost in their bid to stop the project.

In the meantime, Goldenberg said the group would throw its support behind candidates who will stand up to development that negatively affects the neighborhood’s character or disrupts its quaint lifestyle.

“There are certain kinds of candidates that will oppose any kind of commercial development, and there are those that will be opposed to high-density residential,” Goldenberg said.

Friends of Shadow Mountain also advocated for the Midland Trail and pedestrian bikeway on West Hopkins Avenue. Both projects are complete and fully functioning.

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