Don’t blame me
July 4, 2018
To Aspen City Councilman Ward Hauenstein,
Do not blame me for the gazamillion dollars which the city has either spent or potentially will incur because the prior council failed to follow their own laws when approving their new Galena Plaza city offices.
It still is mind-boggling that it took a judge to tell you that you counted wrong when trying to figure out when 30 days began and ended for the referendum petition to be submitted on time. You only counted 29 days even though you had the same information given to the judge to correct your mistake. What's up with that?
Your council has let two election cycles pass by after the ordinance was approved where Aspen voters could have decided if they wanted a 47-foot building (19 feet over existing code) to be built in the parking lots in front of the former ACRA spot with a portion of the building (third story) to be built on Galena Plaza public open space, which according to the City's Charter requires a vote to change the use. There goes 31 lot and street parking for Rio Grande Park. Why was the council fearful to put the question on the ballot?
When you pontificate that three people are to blame for the city's woes, don't forget to make mention of the 542 valid city of Aspen registered voters who signed the referendum petition in two-and-a-half days, which is a record time for collecting signatures.
How long did it take you to collect signatures for the hydro plant and Ref 1, which was approved by 85 percent of Aspen voters to prevent such a scale and mass building approved by council for the Galena site?
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Councilwoman Ann Mullins said the Hopkins option will give the city much-needed office space quickly, is a good location and uses something that is already there, instead of new construction. Mayor Steve Skadron said the Hopkins building is attractive because it becomes a concentrated municipal campus downtown.
Councilman Adam Frisch said the Hopkins option has merit, especially because of the "legal unknowns" with the current city office plan.
"That legal uncertainty could take a lot of time to play out," he said. "To me, (the Hopkins building) is a very, very viable option."
The best part of the 517 Hopkins solution is that Galena Plaza public open space is saved from city offices, which are shut down at night and on weekends.
According to the city's adopted 2006 Civic Master Plan, "Galena Plaza shall not become a dead space."