Letter: Aspen, do a reality check

Starting with 15 substandard proposals to occupy the Old Power House, the City Council has winnowed the list to five “finalists.” Along the way, it has leveled additional requirements for teaming, food and beverage, long-term financials, etc., which none of the “finalists” will completely master. Query: Why not simply do a reality check and ask each, “How many people do you reasonably expect to visit the facility in February?” But rest assured that under the complex scoring formula agreed upon, a winner will emerge; it will be the least incompetent of the batch.

The council still retains the option to reject all proposed uses and go another route, a use most suitable for the city’s overall needs. The earlier the city pulls the plug on this complicated selection process, the easier it will be for everyone.

The city has on its plate a pressing need for administrative space with a list of city-owned properties, including the tiny Mountain Rescue cabin on Main Street, as potential locations. But it simply defies reason that the council (Dwayne Romero excepted) will not consider adding the Old Power Plant to that list. Rather, it seemingly views that facility as a throwaway suitable only for some idealized vision of “a unique community asset.” It is time to put ideals aside; here is a real-life example of “a unique community asset” with a long-established track record and a pressing need for space — the Aspen Police Department.

At this point in the process, the council and staff get an “A” for ant-like persistence attempting to do its due diligence (they really like to grind away on process) but an “F” in failing to see the top-down big picture of space requirements and potential cost-effective solutions.

Neil B. Siegel