Letter: Work as a team, not a committee

In reply to Andy Stone’s column (“When your watchdog bites you in the butt,” Commentary, The Aspen Times, June 1), the square footage is not the problem. It’s an easy target, but it’s not the problem.

Try as hard as I might, I cannot for the life of me think of a single instance when government went into real estate that ended well. It does result in nice, fat contracts for contractors, but that is about where it stops. The initial flush of walking through the newly minted building is a great photo opportunity, but go back with a camera in 10 to 20 years, and you’re likely confronted with unloved, jury-rigged and rusting squalor.

Do we believe that a new City Hall will be thought out with any more care than Burlingame? Will there be closer attention to detail than on the recent Wheeler redo? Rumor has it the ceiling was installed prior to the sprinklers, which necessitated undoing the redo and doing again — let’s not even talk about ripping out the careful historic renovation from the ’80s.

The last iteration of the airport I saw included walking through a subterranean garage to reach the bus. Does no one remember the stagnant quagmire of our Christmas traffic? Isn’t our real urgency a free public shuttle direct from baggage claim to Aspen? Add to this a windowless waiting area when our greatest asset is the view, and you have to wonder what cookie-cutter, off-the-shelf airport terminal widget was pitched — and accepted. For those who are unfamiliar with the story, the design for Denver International Airport was originally presented at the International Design Conference in Aspen as a proposal for Abu Dhabi. The shapes were “bedouin tents” for that pitch and “mountains” for the DIA pitch.

By necessity, government design is design by committee. Will we simply amplify our current failures? Highly likely.

Let’s stop scratching at the scab of square footage. The Armory is a lousy space for offices, and as appealing as it might be to fill the concrete bunker of a parking garage with “1984” brutalist cubicles, I don’t think that would make for a mentally stable public servant. Solutions will not come from bending to every squeaky wheel. Let’s go back to “form and purpose.” Let’s make a list of what we need and prioritize that list. Let’s start there. Let’s work as a team, not a committee.

Ziska Childs