Another hotel? It’s not needed | AspenTimes.com

Another hotel? It’s not needed

Junee Kirk
Aspen, CO Colorado

Do we really need another large hotel development at this time? We already have five luxury-hotel lodge developments along Monarch Street, and the ground-breaking Boomerang Lodge is just starting along Hopkins Avenue.

Each of these sites is a mega construction project generating greater impacts on infrastructure than Aspen has ever seen. More employees to house, more traffic, more dump trucks of dirt, in and out of town (10,000 and counting), more noise, more dust, more people. The residents of Aspen no longer feel as residents.

The mantra that we are losing our hotel base of rooms seems specious in light of the fact that Aspen has never been busier in the offseasons and summers, with restaurants filled, parks teeming with activity, people packing the grocery stores, and streets filled with cars and motorcycles, lines, congestion, etc.

Aspen’s infrastructure simply cannot take more development. We are discussing a new hydro-electric plant, a new sewage stormwater drainage system for another $50 million alone. All this will be voted on and paid for by the residents and taxpayers. Not the developers who cause this growth.

At the City Council meeting Aug. 27, it was discussed that because of the city’s development in Aspen, the Jenny Adair stormwater project only manages 15 percent of the sediment pouring into the Roaring Fork River. Staff said that, “‘We need to build several other phases around town to handle the 80 percent of sediment and stormwater discharging into the Roaring Fork River.”‘ Is this all because of the massive scale of development projects in and around the town of Aspen?

The staff has said that within a six month period, 144 tons of sediment from construction sites is discharging into the river and that additional stormwater treatment plants are needed in other parts of town. This amount of sediment is far more than staff ever anticipated as a direct result of the unknown impacts Aspen construction has had. Are we not prioritizing Aspen as green in the Canary initiative? Is Aspen being a good steward of the environment?

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The developer of large projects should be made to pay for this, particularly when they ask for a PUD, which allows them to build twice the size that our existing the code allows (thereby ignoring any growth management plan). In other cities, such large projects required the developer to mitigate for these negative, consequential impacts on the community.

In Chicago, for example, I understand that large hotels house 100 percent of their employees. Also, in Europe, most large lodge hotels are required to provide housing for all their employees.

If the developers of Centurion and John Sarpa truly wish to give back to the community with the proposed Lodge, then perhaps they should consider the following:

1) Drop the size of the hotel to come closer to the city code, making the reduction at least another 15 percent.

2) Work with neighboring developers ” and with the Skico ” to lower the lift to bring it closer to town for the convenience of locals and residents of Aspen, rather than farther up the hill which would serve mainly those guests of the high end luxury hotels.

3) Mitigate at 100 percent for their employee housing and entire workforce.

Presently, Aspen is under siege with development, construction, congestion, traffic and noise. It has progressed at geometric proportions in the last three years. If John Sarpa wants his hotel, he should then wait for an appropriate time when the dust has settled in the construction war-zone: perhaps another three years. Then, this would be a true community amenity.

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