Aspen is a diverse community that is made of people whose interests and support of the different arts groups make up the fabric of this town. People come from all avenues and walks in life. They contribute in various ways to a variety of nonprofits that “build community” and represent the community’s diverse interests. Community social dance and small local performing theater groups are only a few of the many nonprofits that make up Aspen’s eclectic tastes and interests.
Why should one nonprofit group have any more entitlement over city-used property than another? All nonprofits should have equal use and entitlement of city-owned public space.
If the museum is given permission to be build on civic public property for their own use, there is no guarantee that this 30,000-square-foot edifice will ever be built as a mixed-use facility, as Mick Ireland once opined it should be. Will the museum include a new black box theater for the Hudson Reed Theatre Ensemble, which currently uses the facility in the winter and summer? Will it include a sprung floor for mixed-use community dances, or a civic meeting hall?
Currently, the convenience of parking, restaurants and proximity to town and Main Street belong to the full spectrum of all citizens: those who attend city and county meetings, and many small nonprofits that serve the community’s social, religious and recreational needs.
The museum’s executive director, Heidi Zuckerman, has said that other nonprofits might possibly, or occasionally, use the lobby or roof area for their functions depending upon availability. These other nonprofits, however, need their own specific space, with reasonable rental fees that the city presently provides. They cannot and should not be at the will or mercy of another private nonprofit.
There are no guarantees that this signature museum, eyeing building on the majority of Aspen’s last remaining civic open space, will guarantee that this signature museum will be a mixed-used facility. Without guarantees, this approach is the same as having a museum, as a private facility, on public land without working as a community asset to serve the public.
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A recent survey of Aspen residents shows that people are happy here, feel safe but are financially insecure.