Not much of a tradeoff |

Not much of a tradeoff

Dear Editor:

It is no small wonder why the ZG plan for the massive government development proposal for the entire south portion of the Rio Grande Park to Main Street and Mill Street to the Obermeyer Place, touted by county master planner Ben Gagnon, and former city planner Stan Clausen, received an 80 percent thumbs up last Wednesday. The attendance of this meeting was 80 percent government employees from the city to the county, and employees and staff from the art museum, library, ACRA and committee members who worked on this future master plan.

Expansion and more expansion and construction are what the planning staff of the government agencies and large nonprofits are hired to do. Never mind that there is no great necessity that the county government really need consolidate all its 46,000 to 60,000 square feet of office space in town (needed or not). Never mind that the city government wants to expand out on the existing parking spaces for more employee housing that this huge development would generate. Everyone wants to expand with his or her own agenda, for it is only the taxpayers footing the bill.

The county needs the Zupancis property, realistically, for a larger meeting place for the county commissioners and some additional office space. But consolidating all county offices presently at the AABC to a location in downtown Aspen would have more negative impacts on this town than it now has in congestion, traffic, noise and pollution. Is this really a good tradeoff?

Is it worth trading off valuable open space on the only civic plaza in Aspen with 360-degree views of the mountains so some wealthy individuals can leave their name as a legacy on a new “signature museum” while they can take a huge tax deduction?

Ben Gagnon, a very smooth, clever planner, thoroughly knows how to get these projects pushed through the door. Partner up with well-funded nonprofits like the art museum, and everyone can push through their own agenda.

I have the feeling that if more residents of Aspen really knew the extent of this long-term expansion, at the expense of their open space, civic plaza, parking lots, pedestrian amenities and views to the mountains, they would vote it down 80 percent.

Junee Kirk