Speak up, Aspen | AspenTimes.com

Speak up, Aspen

If you had the power to determine how Aspen would look in 10 years, what would you do?

Would you change the mix of businesses or the number of hotel beds or the amount of affordable housing? Would you change the public transit system in any way? How about Aspen’s parks and trails? Would you seek to spruce up the town, or would you strive for more “messy vitality?” Would you redevelop parts of Aspen and, if so, how?

Questions like these are at the heart of a public process that Pitkin County and the city of Aspen are about to launch. Officials hope to attract 1,000 locals to three meetings on Jan. 27 and 31. That may sound like a lot of people, and it is, but when you’re trying to define and agree on a “community vision,” then you obviously need all the participation you can get.

If you care about Aspen’s future, or if you feel for some reason that our fair town is headed in the wrong direction, then we humbly suggest you attend these meetings. They will help set the agenda for the next 10 years of public life in Aspen and Pitkin County, and elected officials will base many of their decisions on the community vision that emerges from this process.

For those who haven’t attended any of the other recent “keypad voting” sessions conducted by our local governments, then we’d suggest giving it a try. The technique for eliciting feelings and opinions from the public is interactive and interesting, and far more effective than the “for or against” nature of the traditional public hearing. By using electronic “clickers” to register their answers to questions and statements that appear on a screen at the front of the room, Aspenites can safely, anonymously and instantly state their feelings on an issue and then see how others reacted as well.

When the sessions are over, public officials will take the results and use feedback to craft an updated version of the Aspen Area Community Plan (Community Vision is the new terminology for the same document), which guides virtually all local government policy decisions on everything from zoning to transit to housing to law enforcement.

Here are the details. The first meeting will run from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 27, at the St. Regis Aspen. The second will be on the same day from 5:30-8:30 p.m., also at the St. Regis. The third and final meeting, at least for this iteration of the Community Vision process, will be from 2-5 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 31 at Aspen High School.

We urge any and all Aspenites to attend.

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