Letter: Put community in Aspen’s core

I see that Ward Hauenstein is calling on the community to “think about a big idea” and to address Aspen’s “biggest challenges” (“The greater good,” Letters to the editor, The Aspen Times, April 5). Our five months of meetings with more than 200 people in Aspen leading up to the successful advisory vote for “community use” of Armory Hall (the existing City Hall) gave us in-depth insight into some of the important needs and challenges of this community.

We heard pleas for affordable meeting and performance spaces for community groups such as Boy and Girl Scouts, senior-citizen groups, local musicians and performing-arts groups and artists. The few existing meeting rooms in town (Red Brick, Rio Grande, the firehouse, City Hall, the library, etc.) are booked most of the time and have many limitations (hours available, no kitchen, etc.).

Imagine a place for a dance hall, a skating rink, an indoor winter farmers market, lectures, musician jam nights, athletic activities, old timers’ gatherings, game nights, comedy nights, local theater performances, live music — use your imagination! Think of it — the possibilities for a community center are endless!

Yes, we have challenges, and one of them is keeping alive and fostering our community spirit and enhancing our community connections. The Aspen Armory Community Center would be a true community gathering place in the middle of town, on the bus route and close to services and restaurants. It would be a place to enrich and celebrate our incredible community.

But that dream can’t happen unless City Hall moves to a new, more efficient space with its own civic plaza that would invigorate another part of downtown.

Let’s think big and support community in the core with the Aspen Armory Community Center!

Jeanette Darnauer