Here’s an Aspen idea

Wondering if Aspen can have a citizens’ Aspen Preservation Trust? If this has already been considered and wouldn’t work for some reason, please forgive my lack of knowledge — I grew up in Paonia, moved over, and am holed up in my home studio/office most of the time — but felt I had to step out of my bubble for this.

The trust could be a retrofitting of the land trusts that save farms and ranches in perpetuity, and the urban community trusts that have a long successful history (Cleveland, 1914, $2.5 billion and Chicago,1915, $3.3 billion, for instance) of preserving urban neighborhoods, etc. This trust, as I understand it, could operate as a player in the Aspen marketplace without suppressing the free market, without expecting city government to fix things it is not well suited to fix through more regulations and restrictions — yet the government can support and contribute to it.

This trust could gather funds ongoing to purchase and maintain properties that then preserve use towards the Aspen community plan. What if old mansions could be purchased and converted into ongoing affordable housing? What if commercial properties could be purchased and rented to locally serving businesses? What if properties identified as vital to the preservation of Aspen as a community could be purchased and maintained in their current use?

Hypothetically, for instance, Little Annie’s could have been purchased by this trust and maintained as an Aspen legacy landmark business. Right now, we are all fretting about the Isis Theatre. An entity with a revenue model, heart, and intent that allows for direct citizen support would allow everyone to contribute to preserving Aspen as a community while the unhindered free market continues to revitalize Aspen as a world-class resort.

It seems this trust could play an important role in balancing resort and community use between our visitors, part-time residents, and locals. Cannot take the lead on this — and it obviously needs to be Aspen year-round residents — but could help some with research/calls. Anyone?

Sherese Chrétien