Pool plan out of place above Hallam Lake
Schoolchildren and other visitors to one of Aspen’s environmental gems undoubtedly would find it difficult to avoid catching sight of a large, permanent canopy at Jonathan Lewis’ new swimming pool.Lewis lives on the property that was once the home of Aspen icons Walter and Elizabeth Paepcke, situated on a West End bench of land overlooking Hallam Lake. The proposed pool and all of its amenities, including a short underground tunnel from the home’s basement and a stairwell rising from the ground under a transparent, possibly lighted canopy, would overlook the lake.Imagine yourself or your child trying to focus on an eagle or a duck or the plants surrounding Hallam Lake. Hoping for peaceful visions of nature, you find it impossible to ignore the illuminated canopy and whatever else is visible above.It seems a bit odd that the caretakers of Hallam Lake, the watchdogs at the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies, have yet to say what they think about the project. At Tuesday’s Planning and Zoning Commission meeting, ACES director Tom Cardamone said the nonprofit’s executive committee had discussed the proposal and had no opinion. We hope it’ll have the good sense to oppose the plan when the proposal goes before the P&Z again next month.Rejecting this application also should be a no-brainer for the city’s decision-makers.This project might have no historical impact on Lewis’ property, but it would have a profound effect on Hallam Lake. Over the past 35 years or so, the preserve has for all intents and purposes stayed the same. Visitors walking along the edge of Hallam Lake in 1970 had essentially the same view visitors do today – an undeveloped, wild wetlands between the bluff and the Roaring Fork River. There are homes atop the bluff, but aside from two unobtrusive viewing platforms at The Given Institute, there are few – if any – intrusions into the Hallam Lake basin. A swimming pool at the bluff’s edge, with an associated stairwell and canopy, just does not belong.We can already hear ACES visitors asking, “What is that thing?”Those fortunate enough to live in a home overlooking Aspen’s in-town nature preserve have a greater obligation than the average resident. They live next door to an environmental gem and should treat it with respect.Frankly, this pool and all its amenities feel frivolous, a tacky show of wealth that belongs in West Palm Beach or the Hamptons, not on the bluff overlooking an Aspen treasure.