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Roger Marolt: Roger This

Roger Marolt
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

Sometimes when you are wrestling with a big decision the best thing is asking the opinion of somebody who isn’t emotional about it and can give you a quick answer. It’s the modified Spock theory of problem resolution (MSTOPR). Remember Dr. Spock? No, not the one who gave child rearing advice. I’m talking about the one from the planet Vulcan with the last name that allegedly no human being can pronounce. He’s the man(?) on Star Trek who made rational decisions with indifference to emotion.

I’ll go ahead and say it up front: I was never a Star Trek fan.

There, now that all the dorks have stopped reading, we can get down to business. The premise of Spock’s character was that he was a perfectly logical thinker of super high intelligence. I don’t buy that. I believe he just didn’t give a crap. I mean wouldn’t a really intelligent being get a little excited about weekly battles with freaks from all over of the universe. I realize that getting riled up doesn’t help you arrive a better decisions, but a little adrenaline adds some urgency when Uranus is about to be blown to smithereens.

So, Spock wasn’t the smartest person in outer space, but I like the cool detachment. What made him great was a little fire under his butt. Lighting it was Captain Kirk’s job. Together they were the perfect decision-making machine, on which MSTOPR is based. However, I don’t want to digress into a Star Trek discussion for fear of attracting the dorks back.

What I really want to talk about is evaluating the Aspen Club expansion using MSTOPR. Our community, which I will refer to as “Ouranus” (don’t worry, I’ve got it covered), needs to make a logical decision on this development proposal, pronto (next Monday, to be exact).

Perhaps the most important fact that we need to keep in mind is that this is not star date 2007. We don’t have major construction projects being staged on every block. We don’t have daily gridlock on Main Street or our highway. While real estate prices might still be spiraling out of control, they are doing so in the opposite direction. If there has ever been a better time in Aspen to go through with a major development project, it has not occurred during the last 48 years that I have called this place home.

Four years ago when every jackass with a hammer wanted to convert his house into the ultimate contradiction in terms – a luxury duplex – and members of the local Young Professionals Club were forming LLCs to buy spec condos in Willits, we needed to put a damper on the churning and burning of real estate. The town was becoming something nobody could stand. Now it has turned into something nobody is sure they can hang on to. It’s a recession, Baby, and a big one that might stick around awhile. MSTOPR tells us that we are navigating through a different galaxy now and should consider changing our course.

They say that the Klingon is in the details and, if so, Kronos is poised to expand significantly. The current Aspen Club is set to grow from 77,000 square feet to more than 164,000 square feet when completed. That’s an expansion of 212.98 percent. But, before we pass judgment we should consider the configuration. Of the expansion, 30,000 square feet will be underground parking and another 12,000 square feet will be for 12 new employee housing units (which The City is not in a position to replicate anytime soon since their housing fund is currently a black hole). So, what we are really contemplating is replacing the existing Aspen Club parking lot with 45,000 square feet of timeshares. Those are the facts.

Now, even though we are traveling along here at warp speed, I know I didn’t slip it past you. In the last paragraph I dropped the “t” word. Unless you are from a very different planet than Ouranus, you know what a ridiculous investment a timeshare is. So be it. We are not being asked to buy them. As far as you or I am concerned they are just buildings. We seem to enjoy getting gray hair around here worrying about what these unitoids are called. The bottom line is that they are places where people from out of town stay. It doesn’t matter if we call them condos, a hotel, timeshares, or a flop house. They’re still just buildings to us.

Lastly, when we talk about size, what really matters is how it affects us. Will it block our views? Will historic landmarks have to be destroyed for it? Will ski lifts have to be moved up the hill to make room for it? Is it going to be big and ugly?

We know that the ski lifts will not have to be reconfigured for the Aspen Club. As for the other issues with size, they really don’t matter. You cannot find a less obtrusive place within the city limits for development. Truly! Nobody is going to have to look at this thing except for a few neighbors, iron-pumpers and yogis. If the Aspen Club folks can make the neighbors happy, the rest of us shouldn’t waste another minute on this. It will have less negative impact on us than a layer of rust on the new Popcorn Wagon.

We should approve the Aspen Club proposal now, when we can use an economic shot in the arm and we have plenty of capacity to minimize its construction impacts. We can save our emotional determination for the next real estate boom when it might actually do some good. This is an opportunity to protect Ouranus against a threat we have never seen the likes of, attacking from the other side of the Universe.

And now, I can’t resist – Beam me up, Scotty!


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