Roger Marolt: Roger This
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
There is one major reason that I think Aspen City Council should approve Michael Fox’s application to expand the Aspen Club by 55,000 square feet to build 20 timeshares, 12 employee housing units and an underground parking garage. The reason is that they will not move the base of any existing chairlift farther up the ski mountain to accommodate his plans. Yes, that’s my reason. I’m serious.
Look, I am tired of all kinds of self-interested people making up all kinds of arguments why we should be for this or against that around here, but who never really tell us why they personally support a given project or not. Aren’t you tired of people publishing laundry lists of arguments for certain initiatives in their letters to the editor that they think we will like? If you give me a dozen reasons why I should be in favor of your proposal, that usually serves to clue me in that there are probably 12 better reasons to be against it. You’ll score more points with me just cutting the crap and letting me in on the one thing you really care about.
So, I am telling you the truth on the Aspen Club proposal: If you don’t have to reconfigure the ski lifts in order to make room for your development project, I’m already halfway onboard. That’s not to say that this is the only thing I’m considering, but it is a huge start in the right direction. Look what’s happened other times when we moved ski lifts around to fit “The Plan.” We ended up with the base of Highlands fiasco and the Base Village at Snowmass disaster. We’re a ski town, for Pete’s sake. Don’t screw with the lifts unless you are going to make them longer.
Of course, I have considered other things in getting behind the Aspen Club expansion application. In my commitment to transparency, I think I should mention them also.
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Firstly, I don’t really give a hoot what they do with their property all tucked away nicely back there on Ute Avenue. It’s not like this thing is directly across the street from Wagner Park or next door to the Wheeler Opera House. Honestly, I haven’t seen the Aspen Club up close in 10 years … at least. Riding up the gondola over Little Nell I could crane my neck and pick it out if somebody asked me to, but other than that I don’t notice it.
Honestly, I’d see this project more often if it was being constructed in El Jebel. As it is, it will be out of sight and out of mind in my own back yard, and this is a very good thing. Remember, I’m leveling with you here.
Why is this a good thing? Mostly because I believe that City Council, no matter how ardent they are against growth and development, feels some pressure to approve a few projects every year just to appear somewhat objective. They can’t straight away deny every application put in front of them and come across as being fair at the same time. Do you see? They have to approve something so that they can say “no” to everything else. Like I said, this is just a hunch, but I really think it works this way.
Then there’s the issue of traffic that some have brought up. Aside from the day after New Year’s Day, I really doubt that a health club can generate traffic jams. But I’ll tell you what: Who cares anyway? This supposed traffic congestion will all be on the east side of town. I don’t commute to or from the east side of town. The Aspen Club is farther east than the grocery store even.
Yes, I make a few trips up Independence Pass every year, but rarely at peak workout times. I’m confident that I can adjust my Front Range travel schedule comfortably around popular yoga classes. Besides, and once again I am being as transparent as possible here, there is a part of me that thinks people in the Mountain Valley area of town should have to sit in idling traffic now and then so they can get clued in to what the rest of us coming into town from the west have been dealing with for the past 35 years. It’s only fair, right?
Then, as much as I hated all the construction noise, dust, detours and attitude we were made to endure during the Real Estate Appreciation Days, I see lots of people hurting financially now. Many I don’t feel too sorry for because they were greed-gouging pigs that gobbled up far too much from the debt trough as if there was no risk involved in real estate investing and development and thus don’t have anyone to blame but themselves. But, many more are just regular working stiffs caught in the fray who are struggling to pay the mortgage, put the kids through college or Ski Club, and like to go out for a nice dinner at the Steak Pit occasionally. We need to help them. We can find a healthy commercial balance. This might be a good start.
Lastly, I have to tell you that Michael Fox and I are friends. But, as anyone who knows me will attest, that’s worth nothing in sports and only serves as a tiebreaker, at best, in political issues I’m ambivalent about. If Fox tries to move a ski lift to build his project or proposes to construct another hideous duplex on the golf course, I will be relentless. He will be begging for The Aspen Times to fire me or, at the very least, he’ll ban the paper from his club.
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