Shame on Roger | AspenTimes.com

Shame on Roger

Dear Editor:

I feel a need to respond to my friend Roger Marolt’s “opinion” in Friday’s Aspen Times entitled “Register early for the Lift 1A development vote.” The word I would use to describe Roger’s essay is “harsh.”

Roger discusses the certainty of a public vote to determine the fate of The Lodge at Aspen Mountain and Lift One Lodge and is critical of John Sarpa for having said, “One always hopes to avoid the uncertainty of a public vote.” Roger thinks if you’re not insulted by Sarpa’s remark, “you probably can’t read.” Yet I respond – how can one criticize that remark? I say anyone in their right mind would want to avoid a public vote – especially in a town so full of independent thinkers. That’s totally logical. There’s nothing Eastern Bloc about wanting informed representatives to make important decisions instead of uninformed proletariat.

I, for one, know nothing about architecture and design.

Several important points were missing from Roger’s “opinion.”

First, the previous COWOP was created for the purpose of finding consensus on a plan for the entire south Aspen neighborhood, including both sides of Aspen Street. That plan is no longer relevant because the two hotels have decided to go it alone.

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Second, out of the 10 members of the newly created COWOP for the Lodge at Aspen Mountain, three to four of those members are outspoken opponents of large mass buildings, so it would appear the developers have chosen to bring the opponents into the fold to reach an acceptable outcome. If these anti-development members can work with Centurion to find good solutions, why wouldn’t the populace be receptive to their recommendations?

Third, neither the Hyatt, Limelight Lodge, Dancing Bear Parkside nor Dancing Bear Mountainside were subjected to the uncertainty of public vote. All these lodging sites received a final approval from council after tedious scrutiny and numerous other votes from committees, so when (and how) was it determined that the two hotel sites on South Aspen Street should be subjected to a public vote when other lodges have not been?

Roger, contrary to your remark, I don’t agree with you that the judgment of Aspen voters should be trusted as much as the judgment of the representatives elected to make decisions. Why? Because we locals don’t have the time, knowledge or expertise to study architectural plans! We know we don’t want a 130,000-square-foot contemporary art museum just off Main Street, but we don’t have the knowledge to analyze architectural plans for a hotel. We pay City Council a pathetically small amount of money to do that for us.

Fourth, I attended City Council meetings years ago when Lodge at Aspen was discussed, and I heard more pro-Lodge comments from voters than you may be aware. Citizens like the idea of a hotel on south Aspen.

There is nothing “impotent about Sarpa’s powers of persuasion”; the straw that broke the camel’s back was the mass and height of the building. Five elected officials might very well reverse course if they determined (after tedious scrutiny only they are capable of) that the latest plan is in the best interest of Aspen’s needing additional hotel space.

Your written reference to “payola” is unworthy of you and so contemptible it doesn’t deserve response. (Let’s hope you don’t get a legal response to that comment.) Pretend what you want, you were suggesting bribery might be in play here, which is a vicious accusation unworthy of you. Stick to the high road and don’t plant unkind seeds based on hearsay and rumor. It is not acceptable for you to assume other people’s motives as if your diagnosis was fact. You do not know how council might vote in any given circumstance, and it’s outrageous for you to state in writing, “no elected official can endorse it.” Wouldn’t it be poetic justice if council approved this plan and in the process they proved your hearsay, speculation and innuendo wrong?

Whether or not John Sarpa wishes to endorse a public vote to determine the fate of his hotel at the base of Lift 1A, I can assure you I do not endorse a public vote on this issue because there is no way in hell I can study enough engineering, architecture, design and transportation to make an informed decision on this matter – and I doubt other locals could, either.

Let the decision be made by those council members who (hopefully) have the knowledge to do so, not by those who would vote no for the sake of voting no with no thought or vision to long-term planning or the welfare of the community at large.

Susan C. O’Neal

Aspen