Thumbs up for Aspen’s ZG plan |

Thumbs up for Aspen’s ZG plan

Charles Agar
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
Paul Conrad The Aspen Times

ASPEN ” More than 150 people were in general approval of plans to revamp civic property in downtown Aspen, during a public forum held Wednesday at the Hotel Jerome.

Treated to a $45-per-plate lunch on the city’s dime, residents saw a 3-D presentation of the proposed Zupancis-Galena (ZG) Master Plan, which could make way for a new 170-space underground parking garage, an addition to the library, a new county office building, affordable housing and space for the Aspen Art Museum on the Galena block in downtown (an area bordered by Main Street, Mill Street, the Rio Grande Park and the edge of the Zupancis property).

Ben Gagnon, special projects planner with Aspen’s community development department, walked the group through the conceptual plan and stressed that while planning for the project would be done all at once, construction could be phased in over a period as long as 10 to 15 years.

Gagnon said the plan would include moving ground-level parking underground, and create a more seamless pedestrian experience from the downtown core to the Rio Grande Park area.

Attendees were asked to come up with statements ” 12 in all ” and participants voted with a thumbs up, a neutral vote or a thumbs down.

“I was a bit surprised at how much support there was,” City Manager Steve Barwick said.

City staff will collect the feedback and perhaps tweak the plan for further public meetings and an eventual application to the City Council, according to Chris Bendon, director of community development.

“We’re just trying to see if the ideas stick to the wall,” Bendon said.

Many in attendance expressed concern over size of the proposed structures or blocking view planes, and some questioned the need to move the Aspen Art Museum from its current location at 590 N. Mill St.

But going by the thumb votes alone, the group was supportive of the proposed changes in the downtown, by an 84-14 margin (three were neutral).

Wednesday’s meeting follows years of work, Gagnon said, beginning with the civic master planning process, a charette meeting in March 2007, a site plan review and a November 2007 meeting of potential partners in the project.

City officials offered no square-footage or cost estimates for the project, and stressed that Wednesday’s meeting was simply a chance to gauge public sentiment.

Bendon said the pricey luncheon itself was evidence that there is not enough civic space in the downtown.

“We do not have a space in this town where we can accommodate 100 people,” Bendon said.


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