Letter: Base2 — what’s inside matters
October 24, 2015
Base2 — what's inside matters
There will be a new building on the current site of the Conoco gas station (which sees around 200 cars a day). The gas station will be gone regardless of the outcome of the vote. We will see a new entry-level lodge (around 20 cars a day) with some of the smallest rooms ever built in Aspen — one-half to one-third the size of the Limelight's. Or a commercial building that very likely would house a national pharmacy or bank (around 300 cars a day). While the commercial option would provide a slightly smaller footprint, the height likely would be exactly the same.
While I prefer to make aspirational comments of support for seeing a new tiny-room lodge built in Aspen, sadly I find it better to address some of the misinformation that has been propagated. I and the rest of City Hall are taking the parking plan that was submitted as legally binding. More importantly, I am willing to say here and now that I deserve to be tarred and feathered in public prior to immediately resigning my council seat if I vote to allow Mark Hunt to move parking off-site, even if woolly mammoth remains were found and he tried to make a hardship case about needing to move parking off-site. No underground parking, no hotel approval — simple as that.
Secondly, there was never any "back-room deal." If anyone should be blamed for encouraging the idea of a small-room, entry-level lodge to the community over yet another international bank or pharmacy chain, it should be me. I made it my No. 1 council goal when I successfully ran in 2011 and 2015, and I worked hard to see it be part of the entire council's top 10 goals. This goal was partly based on 40 years of the community asking for new, entry-level lodging via the Aspen Area Community Plan. I challenge anyone to read the plan and point out where it asks for another bank or pharmacy. How does 40 years of a published community goal plus more than 100 hours of public meetings on lodging and this application be considered a "back-room deal"? Curiously, even the main instigator of the accusation suggested we work with lodge developers in a letter to the editor dated Aug. 3, 2014 ("City Council should be courting developers," Aspen Daily News). He laid out four suggestions, one being: "Get City Council into the business of courting developers and out of the business of chasing them away." Full letter here: http://www.aspendailynews.com/section/letter-editor/163295.
Last, but certainly not least, I truly appreciate many in the community who desire to speak out against the overall recent development pattern and activity in Aspen by using this project as a proxy but saying please find an application that, if turned down, keeps the status quo, or the other option is something the community actually likes. Punish the developer, punish City Hall, but please do not punish the community with another bank or pharmacy. Please vote "yes" on 2A.