Public weighs in on plans for Lift One Lodge in Aspen
ASPEN – The Aspen City Council on Monday took public comments from several residents who expressed support for the revamped Lift One Lodge project near Lift 1A at the base of Aspen Mountain.Most of their remarks centered on the developer’s plans to provide the Aspen Historical Society with a ski museum facility in a relocated and rehabilitated Skier’s Chalet Lodge. Marcia Goshorn said the project, which has been several years in the making and has undergone numerous changes, doesn’t contain many of the objectionable aspects that it had before. “This area of town is one that’s probably more appropriate for lodging than any other area that we’ve had developments come forward on,” she said. “My first time in Aspen was 50 years ago, and this was the lift area that everyone came to.” She said she respects the fact that the developer wants to save the Skier’s Chalet buildings. While the Skier’s Chalet Lodge will be turned into a museum, the former Skier’s Chalet Steakhouse will transform into affordable housing for the development’s workers. Richard Allen, owner of online retailer Vintage Ski World, said he’s traveled the globe to many ski museums. He said it’s time for Aspen to “step up and showcase its amazing history as a ski town.” Jane Battaglia said the site of the museum is important to her and that the facility needs to be downtown. “I’ve worked with the historical society for many years,” she said, “and I can tell you that one of the questions that comes up continuously is ‘Where is there a ski museum?’ “Both for community involvement and for visitors it’s very important that we have this,” Battaglia added. “And the place for it is downtown where the history was created.” Several others spoke in support of the project, including Bill Tomcich, president of reservations firm Stay Aspen Snowmass; Ruth Kruger, a real estate broker, former mayoral candidate and former city Planning and Zoning commissioner; Kip Hubbard, deputy director of the historical society; and Jackie Kasabach, a member of the historical society’s board of trustees.Earlier in the meeting, project manager Bob Daniel, who represents developer Roaring Fork Mountain Lodge-Aspen LLC, discussed details of the project that the P&Z narrowly approved on Aug. 23 and sent to the council with a positive recommendation. Plans call for a 27-unit project with 22 timeshare units, five free-market units, 155 subgrade parking spaces and a public restaurant with an aprs-ski deck in addition to the dormitory-style building for employee housing and the museum using the Skier’s Chalet buildings. Since the project gained the council’s conceptual approval in 2009, the total floor area of its three primary buildings – the museum, employee-housing dormitory and lodge – has decreased from 123,693 square feet to 84,514 square feet. The project also includes numerous infrastructure improvements at the developer’s expense, including the reconstruction of parts of South Aspen and Deane streets, and a pedestrian mall within the area.There also would be a corridor running through the lodge area for the possibility of a surface lift that would take skiers up to Lift 1A. The developer is committing up to $600,000 for the surface lift, which might or might not ever be built. A corridor for the surface lift doesn’t line up with the current base of Lift 1A. It would be premature to go forward with the plan because the Aspen Skiing Co. has made no decisions about replacing Lift 1A, Daniel said earlier this summer. Council members had few comments after hearing Daniel’s presentation and the citizens’ remarks. Councilman Steve Skadron said he would like a future answer to the question of how the developer planned to issue 84 keys for 22 timeshare units. The meeting was continued to Oct. 11; at least five public hearings on the project application are planned, with Monday’s being the first in the series.In other City Council business:• At the beginning of the meeting, some council members spoke in honor of the late restaurateur Billy Rieger, who died by his own hand last week at the age of 50. “Aspen has lost a true friend,” said Councilman Torre. “Billy Rieger, owner of Kenichi’s, passed away last week. … While Aspen loses many friends throughout our time here, this one was especially unsettling especially because Billy chose to take his own life. Torre pointed out that Pitkin County has a suicide rate that’s nearly three times the national average. He read from a letter on the subject that The Aspen Times printed, saying, “Take care of one another. Go out of your way to help someone, even if you think it won’t matter, because you never know when it does.”• The council voted 5-0 to increase electricity rates for commercial, residential and municipal customers. A public hearing was held but no one from the audience spoke up to oppose the rate hike. The increase affects consumers of power from the city’s municipal utility only, representing the downtown area and West End neighborhoods, and does not apply to Holy Cross customers.• The council went into executive session after the meeting to discuss ongoing litigation, including a lawsuit that opponents of the city’s proposed Castle Creek hydroelectric power project filed firstname.lastname@example.org
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