Our mistake | AspenTimes.com

Our mistake

Dear Editor:

The BMC purchase was a mistake ” but not the mistake of city staff or the broker, Greg Hunter. It is our mistake as voters. We voted council in and gave them millions to squander.

By voting to extend the affordable housing tax (RETT) we enabled council to become the largest developer in town. They enthusiastically grabbed our money and set out to buy as much land as they could at the top of a speculative market.

I am deeply concerned that our leaders have abandoned our core value ” protecting the sustainability of a small town. A small town is more than inexpensive housing, it is also about living life ” buying, fixing things, and getting professional services ” within a small area.

Mick Ireland while still a county commissioner helped propel this emphasis on housing at the cost of sustainability when he championed changing zoning at the business center to allow developers to mitigate affordable housing obligations at the ABC. What we are losing are mechanics, the lumber yard and other small businesses. The rationale for local housing is a mockery because council’s policies require we drive 30 to 50 miles to build a bookcase, shop or carry on the normal activities of life.

What the emphasis on housing is doing is building a bedroom community of cheap labor to serve corporations who are becoming the only employers in town ” another violation of a policy that once favored local workers and businesses. Even the hiring of Mr. Hunter ” not an Aspen resident ” violates that policy.

In defense of Greg Hunter, the fact that there have been no problems with the actual sale demonstrates his competence, thoroughness and integrity. The problem is the direction this council is taking.

This council race is the most critical one in a decade. This council focuses on heights but doesn’t examine the effect seven fractional projects are having on the community. Flush with the millions generated in a speculative bubble, council acts like heady investment fund managers freely spending other people’s money while choosing to believe that speculative hysteria doesn’t crash. Government is supposed to provide a steady hand and to avoid the fevers that possess free markets.

I believe the trajectory we are on is destroying the sustainability of Aspen as a community.

Last night at Derek Johnson’s candidate meet-and-greet I put forth the “talk” regarding BMC to gauge how he would behave as a councilman. His response was measured and thoughtful. Derek came across as having the smarts and maturity necessary. Add his background as a smart entrepreneur, parent and an affordable housing owner, and I saw a man who better represents us and can bring good sense back into city leadership.

Shellie Roy


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