Save the courts | AspenTimes.com

Save the courts

Dear Editor:

After the success of this year’s MotherLode Volleyball Classic, can anyone doubt the importance of the sand courts, located at Willoughby Park, as a vital part of the overall pedestrian vibe and excitement that makes up the vaunted, long-running, annual Aspen event? More than 523 teams, from all over the United States, came to Aspen this Labor Day weekend to compete, and enjoy, our annual “Volleyfest” – despite the economy.

The proposed redevelopment of the Lift One area, the Lift One Lodge project, including Willoughby Park, purports to eliminate the sand courts that have existed there since 1978. Although the developers have agreed to relocate and/or rebuild the sand courts in another location, the fact remains that the existing location, with its close proximity to the Koch Lumber Park “championship courts” (and within very close walking distance of downtown Aspen), help create an exciting “pedestrian feel” to the event, with spectators and players alike walking back-and-forth between both locations and the downtown all throughout the weekend.

Not only that, but the city’s investment in the courts, and the Willoughby Park area, also bring a return to the city; just through the amount of participants, and their entourages, who come into town because of the Labor Day event, increasing lodging percentages; and, shopping, dining, et al. (Only 19 percent of the teams participating at The ‘Lode come from within the state of Colorado.) The developers want to create some entities, at Willoughby Park, that will cost the city money, year-in-and-year-out, with no return on investment.

Besides being an important “cog” in the Labor Day activities, the rest of the year the Willoughby Park area is one of Aspen’s great little “pocket parks”; gems which give quiet solace to many tourists and locals alike, allowing people to have picnics and a little volleyball in a “tucked-away” corner that is not only beautiful but also keeps a certain vitality that Aspenites love to proclaim.

To relocate the courts would not only change the dynamics of one of Aspen’s best free events; but would also take away from an already established enjoyment by many people.

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If this issue concerns you, please attend the public City Council meetings related to the Lift One Lodge development project and/or the COWOP meetings regarding the Lodge at Aspen Mountain and weigh in on your views and take a good look at what is being proposed. We need those courts.

Leon Fell

producer

annual MotherLode Volleyball Classic

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