A time for leadership | AspenTimes.com

A time for leadership

Maurice Emmer’s letter (“Elected Officials Should be Removed From Office,” The Aspen Times, July 6) posed a number of rhetorical questions based on an incorrect assumption, that some city officials broke the law. There is nothing criminal here as Maurice intimates. More properly, District Court’s debatable decision on a point of administrative law should be appealed by the city lest bad precedent be allowed to stand. Thus, irrespective of the merits of any new City Hall project the final determination on the ability of the city to act as it did may not be settled for years.

But the District Court may have done the city a favor by interjecting a wrench. As evidenced from last week’s debate the city is trying to make a 50-year decision on space needs at a time when the work place is radically changing. Commercial entities, like law firms, consultants, etc. are abandoning conventional work layouts for shared common areas of flexible functionality. They are decreasing square footage requirements to reduce costs. Who can predict what the word “office” will mean 50 years from now?

This is not a time to get mad at people who file lawsuits: it is a time for City Council to reset, critically reconsider and make a decision. Don’t bother with the Maurices, they are just noise. Let’s concentrate on the questions that really matter since there is at least agreement by all that the city does need more space and is spending too much money on rent.

Start with these three:

1. Has the city critically looked at its space needs not from the perspective of today’s conventional office arrangements but rather from the efficiency of tomorrow’s floor plans?

2. Does the city have experts with demonstrated experience in laying out 40,000 feet of commercial space divided in potentially multiple locations?

3. With the needed renovation of the present city hall as a given, what then makes the most sense?

The opportunity presents itself to develop a visionary plan that will gain broad support and will not be seen as either a grand ivory tower or an expensive and insufficient compromise. It just takes leadership.

Neil B. Siegel