Letter: Creating a vibrant downtown community center
October 29, 2015
Since I was a little girl, I have believed in and supported activities that foster community spirit. Everything my family and I did as I grew up, and after my husband, son and I moved here, has supported community-building, from the early days of 4-H, church youth groups and potluck suppers to current music nights and community service projects. Now we have the opportunity to apply the values inherent in such down-home activities by supporting "community in the core" — a downtown community center with affordable activities and space for all ages and incomes in our valley.
I'm talking about advisory question 2B on the city of Aspen's ballot. Voting "community use" over "city offices" at the historic Armory building (now City Hall) will send a message to the City Council that we want an affordable place to bring our friends, families, co-workers, newcomers and visitors together in myriad activities.
By having an affordable place to stage lectures, small performances, community meetings, a wintertime farmers market, senior lunches, Girl and Boy Scout projects, numerous other activities and possibly even roller skating (it used to be there!), our community would be richer and more vibrant.
When we gather together to share and enjoy companionship, have fun, learn, laugh, talk and listen, those experiences make us better as individuals and a community.
It makes no sense to me to keep a bunch of municipal offices in the current City Hall and give up the unique opportunity to create vibrancy downtown and a wonderful civic center in Galena Plaza. How many places can we gather together downtown if we don't want to go to a bar or spend money at a restaurant?
And, by the way, you should know that regardless of how you vote, the city plans to build a building in Galena Plaza because it owns the land, it needs the space and that option would be far cheaper. The public deserves the customer service that comes from consolidated offices. The only question is how big it will be.
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We have other opportunities on the ballot to say "yes" to community — decisions that also will support our warm and wonderful sense of place: voting "yes" for the schools, the hospital and Base2 as well as the community use at the Armory.
Who knows? Perhaps creating a community center in the old Armory building could actually break down the barriers among us and foster some common-sense dialogue where we all can share our vision for the future of our small town.
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