Project questionable at best
It’s hard to believe that before we know it, a new Visitor Center could possibly be built at the corner of Galena and Main. The City Council will carry out the final voting process on April 12 for the approval of purchasing a portion of the property owned by Lowell Meyer and Millennium Partners LLC.
I don’t think there is a total understanding among the citizens of Aspen of what all is involved if this project is passed. As a Galena Lofts homeowner, I obviously have a very personal interest. I’m not particularly happy with the thought of a 40-foot wall being built right at my front door. Who would be?
But, as a citizen of Aspen, I am also taking into consideration the numerous reasons why this location seems far from ideal for a new Visitor Center. Not only would views be blocked, trees destroyed, public parking gone, but also the park behind the library would partially become a parking lot for the Police and Sheriff’s Departments. Additionally, at what has been described in the past as the most dangerous intersection in Aspen, auto traffic and pedestrian traffic would become even more congested, not to mention the $1 million-plus of taxpayers’ money that is going to be spent on this new location.
I applaud Mr. Lowell Meyer for working out such a great deal with the city. His property became much more valuable with the city on his side. He stands to make a serious amount of money with the $1 million-plus from the city and the additional two floors of free-market housing he will be building, but only at the expense of surrounding property owners and the beauty and integrity of Aspen.
I’m puzzled as to the reason, why the big rush to move the existing Visitor Center and ACRA offices to Main Street? What was wrong with ACRA and the Visitor Center when they were previously on Main Street, across from Carl’s Pharmacy, not so many years ago? Instead of remaining on Main Street, a brand new building was built in a beautiful location, across from the Rio Grande Park, plenty of parking available (even for vacationing people with RVs), as well as perfect accessibility to the parking garage, fabulous views, and only one block from the main core. It seemed like the perfect location.
But now they say, no one can find them. I find that rather hard to believe. Aspen isn’t that big. A few good signs would certainly solve that problem. So now, with a new move one block up the street, what is being accomplished? Surely this can’t be the perfect solution for the new Visitor Center and ACRA offices. There seem to be more reasons why “not” to build it there than why “to.” I urge all citizens of Aspen to attend the public hearing at City Hall on Monday, April 12. With all of these considerations, I think it would be wise if the City Council would give this a little more thought before voting yes and committing to what seems to be a rather questionable decision.
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