Stone’s ‘us versus them’
Andy Stone’s Nov. 28 column is troubling on two fronts ” his historic preservation proposals, and his divisive comments toward fellow citizens who fail the “locals” test.
Historic Preservation? His focus, and that of Ordinance 30 advocates, is not on quality historic preservation, but on social engineering, and controlling growth and profits. In his proposal, an owner of 25-plus years would be permitted no-questions-asked demolition, regardless of the historic merit. Recent purchasers, regardless how bad the architecture, would draw heavy restrictions of historic preservation. Hardly seems like a preservation program. But, then again, neither does council’s program.
Since the emergency decree, in the absence of a clear vision from council, the critics of Ordinance 30/48 have questioned whether the intent is controlling growth, or true historic preservation. Council’s claims of rampant demolition of important properties as justification have since proven false. (The Historic Preservation Commission had previously determined that those buildings lacked compelling historic value. Additionally, Annabelle Inn, and the Innsbruck Lodge, considered “demolished” for purposes of justifying the emergency, are very much still standing following HPC approved renovation.)
Any measures to control growth should be carried out directly and honestly, not by hiding behind “historic preservation” banners. Ordinance 30/48 language should be scrapped immediately, and order restored by adopting a well accepted 10-plus-year-old standard. A broad-based citizen task force should undertake a new 20th Century program design.
On a issue of broader community impact, Mr. Stone continues the troublesome rhetoric, which pits “long-time locals” against newcomers, second homeowners, relocated retirees and tourists. He says, “People who came here without a whole lot of money and have been struggling ever since deserve a break. The rest of you should enjoy your profits and shut the heck up.”
The disruptive “us vs. them” theme is disappointing. Before moving here five years ago, I was impressed with Aspen’s inclusiveness. The vibe was, “doesn’t matter if you are rich, poor, black, white, young, old, Aspen welcomes you.” The growing arrogance and sense of entitlement of some who segregate themselves as “long-time locals” is damaging. The tone is increasingly unbecoming, sounding victimized and bitter. We hear condescending suggestions by some citizens ” “We care about Aspen more than others do, and we should dictate any changes. Others are unwelcome here.” I think this is a small, but influential group, who encourage the discord.
The 2000 Aspen Area Community Plan states, “Our nature has been consciously inclusive and has abhorred exclusivity.” And ” a stratified class system is foreign to Aspen, and is in opposition to our concept of a healthy community.” Proposals such as Mr. Stone’s erode this value, by encouraging a disdainful attitude toward newcomers, commuters, part-time residents and tourists. The ironic arrogant tone seems to come from a few self-anointed “official locals,” not the wealthy second homeowners, tourists, or stream of “big shots” visiting Aspen.
The “us vs. them” attitude should be healed, not encouraged. I believe that this growing divisiveness is Aspen’s greatest threat. We should honor the important contribution of the greater community and the mutual dependence we have. City leaders and all citizens can have a major positive effect in repairing, not fostering, such damage. As we are about to welcome this season’s visitors to Aspen, I hope that we are more conscious of the inclusive spirit of the “old Aspen” so many want to bring back.
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