Putting the village debate in context | AspenTimes.com

Putting the village debate in context

Dear Editor:

The debate over the development at the Village at Crystal River is not new to the Roaring Fork Valley.

Forty years ago, when the Aspen Business Center was getting started, Safeway made an offer to acquire land and build a 30,000-square-foot market. It reasoned a regional market between Aspen and Snowmass would serve the valley well. The zoning for the ABC allowed for such a market.

But the planning office and many Aspen residents were very upset, reasoning such a market would hurt the character of Aspen, making it like Anytown, USA, hurt local businesses and increase traffic. Letters in the paper were abundant.

We, of course, knew that if we caved, Safeway would just find another location. It was set on building a regional store in the Roaring Fork Valley.

So we challenged the city and county

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to pass an ordinance not allowing a regional market anywhere, and we would tear up the contract with Safeway. After all, the politicians of both the city of

Aspen and Pitkin County advocated for neighborhood-sized stores.

To my surprise, they both adopted such neighborhood ordinances that would not allow a large regional market anywhere. We tore up our contract with Safeway, and that was the end of Safeway.

Today, the ABC has a small (6,000-square-foot) market – Roxy’s – that serves the ABC and the North 40 extremely well. It has brought balance to our area and does not negatively impact Aspen or Snowmass.

I think the community was right.

John McBride

Aspen