Parking garage faces new challenge
A neighbor of a proposed parking garage on Hyman Avenue filed a protest Thursday, challenging the garage developer’s attempt to put his project’s fate before Aspen voters.
Katy Bartlett, who resides in the Benedict Commons affordable housing next door to the proposed Park Place garage, claims developer Peter Fornell misled the public in indicating the garage would be available for public use. Her protest also contends the matter isn’t appropriate for a citizen’s initiative.
Fornell launched the initiative after the City Council rejected his parking garage late last year. He collected sufficient signatures from registered city voters to put the ordinance, voted down by the council, to a public vote at a special election.
Bartlett’s protest will trigger a hearing to determine the validity of her challenge.
Bartlett was one of a number of residents who complained about the potential impacts of Park Place on the neighborhood at a public hearing shortly before the council turned down the proposal.
Park Place would be a $6 million, automated parking garage with 99 spaces, all but 19 of which are to be sold to individual buyers for $100,000 to $125,000 per space.
The spaces are to be made available for short-term use by the public at competitive rates when owners aren’t using them, according to Fornell. But Bartlett is challenging what she calls a “vague” promise of more public parking.
“Rather than explain their plans, the proponents of the petition asked voters to sign the petition if ‘they wanted more public parking in downtown Aspen.’ This statement was unlawfully misleading and should invalidate the signatures collected on the petition,” the protest reads.
Fornell contends the spaces will be available to the public regularly, and even if owners are using the spaces, that frees up parking on the city’s streets – in effect, creating more public parking.
He also rejects the claim that the ordinance which sets out approval of the garage isn’t a valid subject for a citizen’s initiative. The city must think it is, he said, since the city issued the petitions that he circulated.
“I didn’t draft my petition. I didn’t type a word of it. The city did,” Fornell said.
The last time a citizen’s initiative faced a protest in Aspen, in 2002, then-Councilman Tony Hershey was challenging signatures collected by the Citizens for a Small Town Entrance.
Karen Goldman, secretary for the Colorado Senate, was appointed to hear Hershey’s protest and did discount some of the signatures.
Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is email@example.com
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