Point/Counterpoint: Lodge at Aspen
After Tuesday morning’s rejection of the Lodge at Aspen Mountain project, political observers are wondering whether the development will go to a vote of the people. We likely won’t have an answer to that question until at least Aug. 27, when the City Council meets again.A referendum on the Lodge can happen one of two ways. The Council can place the matter on the November ballot, or citizens (most likely the developers) could collect signatures and place it on a special election ballot at a later date.As a rule, “direct democracy” is a messy way to make decisions. But there are certain threshold issues where “direct democracy” is warranted, and this is one of them.The Lodge at Aspen Mountain controversy has become much more than a simple hotel proposal. Whichever side you’re on, the issue involves Aspen’s viability – as a resort and as a community. It involves the creation of a secondary base area for Aspen Mountain, the redevelopment of an historic neighborhood and years of disruptive construction. This debate has become a symbolic tug of war between two opposing visions of Aspen, one a high-end resort and the other a quiet mountain community.Did the Council make the right decision? Aspenites deserve to vote on the Lodge at Aspen Mountain.BW
There comes a time to accept defeat. For the developers of the Lodge at Aspen Mountain, now is that time.But at the expense of the time and money of Aspen taxpayers, the developers – Centurion Partners – want the proposed 175,000-square-foot hotel to go to a vote in the November election, or possibly a special election.This issue has gone on long enough. It dragged on for four years, went through two city councils, the former run by Mayor Helen Klanderud, the current one by Mick Ireland, and yielded the same result: rejection. The last-gasp strategy makes perfect business sense for Centurion; after all, it has spent millions of dollars on consultants, attorneys and the like to sway pubic opinion. But to put the fate of Lodge at Aspen Mountain on voters, just months after three new members were elected to City Council, runs counter to representative democracy.By picking Ireland as mayor, voters knew the winds of Aspen’s political climate would change course. Indeed, Monday’s 3-2 vote against the Lodge was a mere reflection of the voters’ will, exercised this past spring. To ask Aspen resident to approve the Lodge at Aspen Mountain undermines the City Council’s vote against the project. It also discredits the countless hours both Klanderud and Ireland’s administrations put in weighing the merits of the proposal, and devalues the decisions we elect our council members to make.RC
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