You can’t beat City Hall |

You can’t beat City Hall

Dear Editor:

I want to take this moment to say thank you to all of you who joined with us in Saving Aspen’s Character. More than 1,400 of you expressed concern over City Council’s total disregard for the Aspen Area Community Plan and the land-use code and asked for council’s reconsideration of the AAM approval.

I feel that I owe you an apology and explanation for not being able to press our case further. We were up against a formidable array of legal power and money. Our attorneys warned us that any action that we might bring against the city would open the individual(s) who brought the suit to retaliatory action on the part of the developer. No one involved wanted to be faced with an open-ended lawsuit, the legal costs and the liabilities that could follow. We had a brief discussion of a recall action but it was discarded due to the time needed for the process and the amount of energy that is needed for such an undertaking.

I contacted a prominent constitutional attorney who agreed that council’s actions were an egregious violation of the city code but they had not violated the state constitution. Even in the face of such an obvious sell-out, the citizens’ only redress can come through the ballot box or the recall process.

This sad episode in the ongoing saga of Aspen demonstrated that this mayor and council, with the exception of Steve Skadron, were deaf to the appeals to their conscience and were willing to ignore the principles of the Aspen Area Community Plan.

On the positive side, city elections are only five months from now, and we have an opportunity to make some changes and demonstrate through the ballot box (or touch screen) that we can have an impact and can make ourselves heard. If only 50 percent of our signers were voters, that is a huge block at election time.

The art museum board is not without guilt in this matter. Given that they had hired a “world-class” architect for the project, why could he not have designed a building that demonstrated some respect for our codes and traditions? Given the amount of opposition to the plan one would think that some of the not-for-profit board would want to make some changes that would allow the community that supports the AAM to feel better about the building. The current AAM board will pass on, their director, having built her monument, will move on to bigger pastures (maybe on the wings of “her” signature structure), and Aspen will be left to live with the building.

To those who supported this effort with time, energy, ideas and money, and to all who signed our flyers, thank you.

Please don’t forget to vote! Happy New Year!

Richie Cohen


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