Planners could see new plan for pool |

Planners could see new plan for pool

John Colson

Aspen’s planners may face a new proposal for a swimming pool, subterranean tunnel and lighted, canopy-covered stairway connecting the two, all on the bluff overlooking the Hallam Lake Nature Preserve.Tom Cardamone, director of the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies and the Hallam Lake preserve, said he has been in negotiations with the proponent of the pool project, Jonathan Lewis, and is hopeful for changes in the plans.”We are in the middle of trying to sort through this issue with various neighbors,” Cardamone said Friday, adding that the goal of the talks is to get all parties “on the same page” regarding the different aspects of the project.Unwilling to give any specifics, Cardamone would only say that “we’ve talked about changing the plan” and that any potential changes have gone back to Lewis for consideration.”My general sense is that they were willing to listen to the idea of changes,” Cardamone said of the talks.Lewis, owner of a home at 414 N. First St. in Aspen’s historic West End, proposed the pool project earlier this year.The first formal discussion of the project was at an Aspen Planning and Zoning Commission meeting on March 21, and that hearing has been continued to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall.The plan has ignited protests from some neighbors and other Aspenites worried that the pool and lighted stairway might have a negative impact on Hallam Lake and ACES, which the city has designated an official “Environmentally Sensitive Area.”Among the opponents is actor Jack Nicholson, who owns a home next-door to Lewis, and has hired attorneys Ted Gardenschwartz and Maria Morrow to argue his case at hearings before the P&Z.Nicholson, according to Gardenschwartz, is worried “that this project is not as environmentally sensitive as it could be, given that it is above an Environmentally Sensitive Area. The project is not consistent with the spirit and intent of the ESA.”Cardamone confirmed on Friday that Nicholson and Lewis, through their attorneys, are parties to the talks about the pool plan, and added that “I’ve heard from a lot of neighbors, by phone and on the streets, so it all kind of goes into the stew.”Aside from concerns about noise and light intruding on the serenity of the lake, Cardamone said ACES wants to be sure that “the 15-foot setback is sacrosanct.”City planning director Chris Bendon said Lewis has altered his plans, moving a “staging area” for construction equipment and materials “about a foot” back from the edge of the bluff, to avoid intruding into that setback. Other than that, he said, he has not heard of any changes.Cardamone said the talks have lessened ACES concerns and added that “the attention that this has gathered has been welcomed by me and the rest of ACES’ trustees” because it has provided an opportunity to “revisit the language of the ESA … to perhaps strengthen the ESA … for the good of ACES and the neighbors.”Bendon said that a P&Z decision on the proposed pool project would be final, unless someone wished to appeal it through the 9th Judicial District.John Colson’s e-mail address is

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