The art of the process | AspenTimes.com

The art of the process

Dear Editor:

I feel obligated to respond to one element of the public discourse on the art museum. There have been mischaracterizations about the validity of the review process, and while the process was different than other land-use applications because it was a settlement to a lawsuit, to say a public process didn’t happen or was invalid is just not true or fair.

A proposal to settle a long-standing legal challenge to the city’s denial of the Wienerstube application was presented to the public a month before the council hearing. The proposal was presented very clearly, with lots of graphics and a model of the architecture. There was a televised (and Webcasted) press conference about the proposal. It was openly discussed on television, in the local papers and on the radio. There were drawings on the city’s website, and there were multiple special open houses at City Hall specifically for the public to get acquainted with the proposal and provide feedback. City and art museum staff were on hand the entire time to discuss the plan with anyone who wanted to chat.

All this was well-publicized, and people did get involved. Stacks of e-mails and letters, as well as hours of testimony were presented to City Council during an eight-hour, standing-room-only public hearing. Yes, the opinions were strong and varied, which is part of our community tradition – it wouldn’t be Aspen if we didn’t have robust divergent opinions about these things.

So, if you don’t like the result of the process, you don’t like the plan, you don’t like the architecture, you don’t like art, you like different art, you are worried about shadows or bird droppings or cottonwood seeds, and you wish council had seen it your way, I totally get it – that’s very fair. But it doesn’t invalidate the process.

Chris Bendon

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community development director, city of Aspen