ZG Master Plan needs our attention next Wednesday | AspenTimes.com

ZG Master Plan needs our attention next Wednesday

Su Lum
Aspen, CO Colorado

Next Wednesday, March 12, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. (lunch included), a public meeting will be held in the Hotel Jerome ballroom to discuss the ZG Master Plan, which every resident who is concerned about local development should attend.

The term “ZG” refers to the Zupancis property just east of the courthouse, and the Galena Plaza property, which includes the former youth center, the library, the Aspen Chamber Resort Association’s (ACRA) offices, the parking garage and the parking lot.

“ZG” is also a cute take-off on the letters on our license plates that identified us as residents of Pitkin County, long ago and still missed.

John Colson wrote an in-depth article about government development in general and this project in particular, for this week’s Aspen Times Weekly (March 2), which you can pick up at the newspaper racks or view online at http://www.aspentimes.com.

In brief, the ZG Master Plan involves moving the Aspen Art Museum from its idyllic location down by the river, new offices for ACRA, protection of the library’s already-existing expansion rights, expansion of the parking garage and ” heads up ” building a massive civic center and office space for city and county departments. Conspicuously absent from the roster of interested parties is any representation from the Aspen/Pitkin County Housing Authority. The Zupancis-Galena property, owned by the city and county, is a perfect location for massive affordable housing, but the housing department was not invited to the table.

Since affordable housing has been identified as our most pressing need, this omission seems curious at best. We do not have a crying need to move the Aspen Art Museum, or to have a civic center or to put all government offices in the downtown core, but we do have a screaming need for employee housing.

Who’s driving this bus?

The ZG Master Plan is still in that dangerous embryonic stage. According to the Times’ article, Ben Gagnon, the city’s special projects manager, “said there are no square footage numbers or dollar figures attached to the CMP [the Civic Master Plan, of which ZG is a major part] so far, because it remains highly conceptual. Such cost and size details will come later, he said, after the public reaction to the plans is known and future directions have been mapped out.”

You know what that means. A few people show up for the preliminary presentations, and next thing you know this will be a done deal, and if you protest they’ll say, “Where the hell have you been? We’ve been working (so hard) on this for YEARS and every step of the way was open to the public.”

GrassRoots TV has been running a film, “Zupancis-Galena Site Plan, A Work in Progress.” In this, the figure of 48,000 square feet is mentioned for the civic center and office space. By my calculations that could house 100 people in 480 square-foot studios, and this doesn’t count the former youth center space that the Aspen Art Museum has its eye on.

This is the time to learn what’s going on and have a say in it. Mark your calendar for 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, March 12, at the Jerome.