Guest commentary: Aspen council candidate Myrin pushing against Lift One plan
Our most pressing problems revolve around carrying capacity. Our current approach considers individual projects without considering cumulative impacts of development. Demand for the “Aspen brand” is unlimited. We cannot build our way out. We need conversations about how much and what type of development we want.
Every job-generating square foot added to Aspen reduces the odds of finding affordable housing, reduces the odds of finding affordable early-childhood care and increases time wasted in traffic. In evaluating the Lift 1 proposal, our discretionary mitigation regulations were abused. We must ask growth to pay its way — profits from speculation must contribute toward costs associated with growth.
I am the only City Council candidate against contributing $4.36 million of our community tax dollars, against sacrificing affordable housing for 44.9 employees and against adding 320,000 square feet of new buildings. This deal has too much community money for too little in return. Too much employee generation for too little affordable housing. Too much construction for too little space. Too much traffic and congestion for, well, forever.
The ballot question was rushed to meet the earlier election date. The “all in one” question on the ballot is simply “shoot the puppy” extortion. This single question needs to be broken up into three questions:
1. Do you support transfer of city parkland, realignment of city rights of way, and changes to the vested rights for Lift One Lodge and associated development in exchange for the replacement of the ski lift and realignment to Dean Street? I’d vote yes.
2. Do you support upzoning land from Conservation to Lodge to build Gorsuch? I’d vote no.
3. Do you support giving the Lift One and Gorsuch developers $4.36 million of your cash for their development? I’d vote no.
A “no” vote sends the developers back to City Council to make this proposal better for our community. The threat by Lift One Lodge to fall back and build under their vested approval is hollow. The vested approval has less gross square footage, fewer lodge units and one less multimillion-dollar free market unit. The vested approval requires the developer to house nearly twice as many employees (91) as the ballot question (46.1).
The biggest reason the developer will return to City Council is to prevent the loss of the over-the-top profit from making Lift One Lodge ski in/out. Ski in/out is made possible by conveying 8,160 square feet of Aspen and Summit streets to the developers, changing Willoughby and Lift One parks from park use to commercial use, and by the eventual change of the Dolinseks’ property from park use to snow storage and snow cat turn-around.
Demand for the Aspen brand is unlimited but the stress our town infrastructure, our environment and our community can bear have a limit. The combined Gorsuch Lift One corridor proposal on the ballot exceeds those limits.
Vote no to send the combined Gorsuch Lift One corridor proposal back to council to rebalance this project to support both the developer and our community.
Leading up to the March 5 municipal election, The Aspen Times is publishing one guest commentary from each candidate for City Council and mayor. Myrin’s website is http://www.bertmyrinforaspen.com and he can be reached at email@example.com.