More on Core
July 11, 2006
The results of all the recent community meetings, gathering citizen input on the town’s direction, are now in and online at aspenpitkin.com – click on “Core Values.” If you manage to get through all of it, you’ll get an idea what it was like for Mitzi Rapkin and Leslie Lamont to, respectively, record and direct all 10 meetings, a Herculean effort.The unexpurgated comments cover a daunting 162 pages, word for word, warts, nonsequiturs and all, with no tidy summaries provided. Being suspicious of summaries in general, I appreciated their absence, and as I waded into the material the comments at first seemed, indeed, impossible to summarize.But there was one question, maybe the main one the present city council wanted the answer to, that resulted in a definitive response: “Is it the role of the city to pace development and construction?”The surprising (to me) and resounding answer was YES! The citizens WANT the city to control the pace of development and construction. That is a major message to the council. Citizens had the opportunity to tell the City Council to buzz off and let free enterprise take over, and they did not say that.This is not to say that the participants necessarily approved of the direction of either past or present city councils, only that they acknowledged the city’s role to pace development and construction.Several thought the city should take control, but should be consistent. Come up with firm regulations and enforce them without exception so everyone knows what the playing field is. The economy goes down and we all panic and relax rules, then the economy booms, and we panic and pull back. “Stop the stop and go,” “Stop the knee-jerk reactions.” “No variances!”There were complaints about everything happening at once and the need to stagger projects. Others were willing to bite the bullet and get it over with.Some felt our regulations are too strict, some thought them too loose, but almost all agreed that it was up to the city to drive the bus, the only entity that has the power to control the free fall. Whether the bus is being driven by the City Council or the city staff was a pointed question.As to where the bus should be headed, the responses to later questions on that subject were, predictably, all over the map.If I had my druthers, I’d like to see a five-year moratorium on everything to let residents and tourists enjoy the sound of silence and to see what the effect would be on traffic.That being an unlikely option, at least use this moratorium time to tighten the hell out of our building codes and broadcast the news that developers will be pissing in the wind if they ask for more.Meanwhile, everyone (you don’t have to be a resident of Aspen) should go to the Jerome Ballroom at either 11:30 a.m. or 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 19, and cast your votes on the 50 questions that will be presented to you and tallied on the spot.Su Lum is a longtime local who can’t wait to see what the questions are. Her column appears every Wednesday in The Aspen Times.