Su Lum: Slumming
October 25, 2011
It was heartening that the Historic Preservation Commission came out against the demolition of the Benton building, but disheartening that they did not do the same for the demolition of Little Annie’s, one of the last of the local watering holes.The argument goes, and may ultimately prevail regarding the Benton building, that if certain criteria hasn’t been met, the applicant cannot be denied. Little Annie’s has been changed over the years and blah, blah, blah, the bottom line at the end of the day – to use a couple of the favorite bureaucrat-speak phrases – is that the dozers can chomp Little Annie’s, so suck it up and get used to it. Hey, it’s called progress.What I’m suggesting is that in these revolutionary days, it would be a good idea to exercise a little bit of anarchism. What if all the members of the HPC stood up and declared, “We don’t care what the rules say, destroying the Benton building and Little Annie’s is anti-historical and wrong, and we’re not going to vote to approve their demolition, period, sta-stomp.” Not necessarily voting to deny, but refusing to vote – refusing to endorse the unthinkable.I think a lot of people, who perceive that P&Z, the HPC and other entities give their stamp of approval to just about everything, would stand up and cheer, and that the resulting perception of insurrection might speed up the process of putting the “rules” in line with the community’s desires.Raise your hand if you want Little Annie’s to bite the dust for a development project brought to you by those wonderful folks who brought you the new Aspen Art Museum and annihilated the Cooper Street Pier. If our boards don’t want to say yes and can’t legally say no, how about taking a stand by loudly refusing to participate? This will give ammunition to the City Council, who will later hear the appeal.Meanwhile, keep your eye on the old Miss Berg house on the corner of Hopkins and Spring. Louise Berg was a local treasure whose interviews on KSNO with George Madsen should be restored. I lived kitty-corner from her in an old house which is now Alpine Bank’s parking lot.My 3-year-old daughter, Hillery, and I met up with Miss Berg in the post office (later the Wienerstube, now you know what). Hillery cranked her head to look up at Miss Berg and said, in a moment I’ll never forget, “You look just like an old witch!” Miss Berg’s place was bought by Adam Walton, recently deceased, and a plan is afoot to build something akin to the Conner Cabin project – restoration of the Berg house, Suzi’s and the other little Victorian, and to put some big financial driver building behind them in the alley.You can’t tell much from the preliminary drawings, but it’s enough to raise the hair on the nape of your neck, warning that this is a plan that demands scrutiny if not a howling.It’s Halloween. Howl.
Su Lum is a longtime local who is scared of our own bogeymen. Her column appears every Wednesday and you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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