Pandora’s should be low priority |

Pandora’s should be low priority

Dear Pitkin Board of County Commissioners,

I am respectfully asking that you reconsider the Pandora’s expansion at this time.

Growth management is about the concurrency of infrastructure to support a community’s needs as it grows. Our community infrastructure is woefully inadequate already, without the addition of new tourism attractions.

Unfortunately, the county doesn’t have a source of dedicated funding to address the lack of child-care facilities, staffing needs, or our ever-worsening affordable-housing crisis.

Yes, the county uses state funds to help low-income families with cost — but without open child-care “slots” and child-care workers — that state pass-through doesn’t address countywide child care needs.

Yes, the county has affordable-housing “mitigation” dollars from new growth, but it only mitigates a fraction of the employees generated — so the housing shortfall grows. There is no dedicated county source of money to begin to address the overwhelming shortfall needed to keep basic community services and businesses running, let alone maintain “world-class resort” amenities.

Where will the new skiers park? Oh, they will be on transit! How ironic that Aspen Skiing Co. has thus far declined to help fund a pedestrian underpass at Buttermilk for skiers to safely use transit, and to allow transit to move more efficiently.

Is Red Mountain going to be residential or “all-in” on short-term rentals (STRs) impacting Aspen while Pitkin’s rural neighborhoods will be protected? How many STRs are in the county now? Are they tracked, taxed or mitigated? With every previously built 10,000-square-foot home now a de facto hotel, how will the county help restore the physical and human infrastructure of a sustainable community, to balance the needs for housing/workers/child-care with demands for business as usual and new growth?

With all sincerity, I am simply saying it is premature to approve Pandora’s. Follow your staff’s recommendations. When the BOCC can tell the public who they are partnering with, when and where they will build new child-care facilities and affordable housing; when our human and physical infrastructure have some level of sufficiency to handle new growth — then we can look at Pandora’s again.

Rachel Richards

Former Pitkin County commissioner, current Aspen City Council member


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