Time to abort the Gorsuch Haus

Dear Mayor Steve Skadron and City Council members,

The Gorsuch Haus hotel’s initial application, which you must shortly review, describes a building that is far too massive and far too large to be allowed in the center of a ski run! It would be questionable anywhere in our town; but to propose that it should be erected in the center of Aspen’s Fifth Avenue ski run is outrageous.

So who really “owns” the ski runs anyhow?

Everyone knows that Aspen Skiing Co. is the legal owner of the property on which Gorsuch Haus holds an option.

However, I’d respectfully point out that Aspen’s mountains in general, and ski runs in particular, are effectively part of our heritage and therefore “owned” by the town.

Clearly, the long-established existence of zoning demonstrates that the town of Aspen has standing when it comes to what should or should not be done with land within the town’s boundaries. The newly gerrymandered parcel of land in question has been zoned “conservation” for more than a quarter of a century.

Conservation zoning caries a height limit of 25 feet — far, far less than the Gorsuch folks are demanding. That 25-foot limit should be honored whatever zoning accommodations are eventually given to Gorsuch.

The Gorsuch developers have positioned their proposed hotel as “necessary” to the redevelopment of a “dilapidated” part of town. That’s total nonsense.

While that may have been the case a few yeas ago, it certainly isn’t so today: The One Aspen Townhomes development is well underway. The second phase of Dancing Bear has been completed. And Lift One Lodge has its approvals from the city in place to deal with the Skier’s Chalet buildings and to create a new lodging structure.

Indeed, only Skico’s own lower 1A lift terminal building remains an unaccounted-for eyesore!

A hotel stuck up on the mountain won’t attract visitors to Aspen; it is the incredible views of the mountains themselves from virtually everywhere in town that attracts visitors. It is the presence of nature that attracts visitors away from over-built, over commercialized ski resorts like Vail to the very “real” mountain town of Aspen!

That is our precious natural heritage. It must — and should — be protected.

I’m totally opposed to Gorsuch’s scheme to enrich himself and his pals from an oversized hotel in the center of one of Aspen’s irreplaceable, truly priceless runs back to town.

If the project were less than half the mass and less than half the proposed height, then it might — just might — be worth considering. But as currently designed, it is virtually guaranteed to be a blight on the landscape!

The ski runs and the mountain views don’t really belong to the Skico. And they sure don’t belong to the Gorsuch gang!

Our mountains, views and ski runs belong to Aspen. And you, City Council members, are the elected temporary custodians of this invaluable heritage!

Please, don’t squander it; it is truly irreplaceable!

Alex Biel