Letter: Expansion not supported by all
All members of the community and St. Mary parish who value our historic St. Mary church, whether Catholic or non-Catholic, please be advised that the proposed expansion plans will receive their initial review by the city of Aspen’s Historic Preservation Commission in a public hearing at 5 p.m. Wednesday in City Council Chambers on the lower level of City Hall. I encourage everyone to attend and voice their opinion and thoughts on the proposed plans. There will be significant implications for the courthouse view plane. The proposed expansion plans are dramatic, significant and inappropriate for such a historic cornerstone of the Aspen community. Despite propaganda to the contrary, these expansion plans are not supported by many longtime members of the St. Mary parish, many of whom have been in the parish for generations.
Trying to get a look at the elevations of the proposal has been difficult, but I encourage you to go to the city’s website, locate the calendar for the HPC hearing on Wednesday and select St. Mary for online copies of the plans and representations as submitted and a copy of the city’s staff review memo. While it is my understanding that a 4-foot height reduction of the 21-foot height has been put forward, I do not believe this is sufficient to preserve the western second-story elevations of the historic church with the first floor at just 12 feet and the proposed stair tower at 25 feet. I believe the alley and west elevations are particularly enlightening as to the proposed impacts on the historic church structure.
It has also been represented that most of the lilacs along the alley, which have graced St. Mary for generations, will be removed as part of this expansion project and much of the existing churchyard will be altered. It is pretty clear that this expansion will irretrievably alter the character of the entire half block that comprises St. Mary church and will contribute to the loss of even more of our small-town, historic character.
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With much sorrow I heard of the passing of a good friend Bruce Berger. He was a man for all seasons, a pianist, prolific author, environmentalist, and lover of Aspen.