Letter: Church pavilion a mistake | AspenTimes.com

Letter: Church pavilion a mistake

As Wednesday draws near, and Aspen’s Historic Preservation Commission convenes to discuss St. Mary’s Catholic Church development proposal, the following thoughts are hereby presented.

The present market value of St. Mary’s property (land and buildings) runs into the tens of millions of dollars — perhaps even nine figures.

Politely speaking, its pastor and staff who reside on the property, while perhaps drawing modest salaries, are nonetheless personally unencumbered of Aspen’s extraordinarily high residential costs, to wit: mortgage, rent, taxes, insurance, utilities, parking, repairs or maintenance.

The main objections to its pastor’s proposal arise from Aspen’s long-term Catholics whose income was earned locally during the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s and whose present-day retirement income is representative of the earnings of that era; that is to say, wholly unsubstantial in view of today’s financial requirements.

Thus, St. Mary’s pastor and staff, newly arrived within the past decade of the new millennium, are entirely unfamiliar with local employment conditions and entirely unfamiliar with nearly impossible local residential costs.

Aspen’s older Catholics, just described, are in fact living under financial hardship, for their local lifetime earnings, which produced their present retirement income, are wholly insufficient to support their residences, owned or rented.

Insofar as Aspen’s Historic Preservation Commission is concerned, it must take into consideration the most important of all matters, and that is the quality of life of the human person.

Those who are in favor of the pavilion arrived in Aspen all too recently with large sums of money acquired elsewhere.

As St. Mary’s pastor revealed publicly at the outset of this proposal, funding was received in large amounts from people, just described, who “hadn’t even seen the original architectural rendering.”

This is not in keeping with the integrity of Aspen’s historical tradition.

Further, in light of recent pronouncements by the Roman Catholic Church’s newly installed pontiff concerning luxurious living and disregard for the poor, St. Mary’s proposal hints of an avoidance of proper Catholic Christian economic theory and practical social justice.

In view of the above, it is recommended that Aspen’s Historic Preservation Commission deny St. Mary’s proposal for the pavilion.

Art Allard