Letter: Listen to the people
Regarding planning for the future of Aspen’s municipal offices and City Hall, I urge the City of Aspen to conduct community outreach and gather public feedback before making a final decision on which of the options to choose.
After voting 4-1 in August 2015 for the all-in-one Galena Plaza option, the City Council is now rethinking that decision due to comments received from a seemingly vocal minority after the decision was made. It seems it would be more efficient and serve the community better to provide the chance for input from a broad cross section of the community before the council makes its next decision on which option to choose.
The smaller Galena Plaza option that the council reviewed last month seems a sad second choice to the all-in-one option. Height is one of community members’ main concerns, and the smaller option would still add another floor to the existing building. With either option, the impact and view from Main Street would be the same — one floor above the library plaza. From the initial sketches, it doesn’t seem as though the impact of the smaller building would be much less than the all-in-one option. Residents will still have to suffer through construction (another common complaint), and apparently the impact would be even worse due to multiple buildings that would require remodeling or construction. And then there’s the fact that this smaller Galena Plaza option would cost taxpayers a lot more money.
In talking to community members about Galena Plaza and the Armory, I’ve found that many are uninformed about the facts and impacts of the different options. Residents need the opportunity to learn these facts through a side-by-side comparison of the different options showing total cost to taxpayers, height, mass, scale, etc. These comparisons could be shown in a public meeting (not a City Council meeting) and posted on OpenCityHall.com. That way, residents could review the facts and provide input that the council could take into account when making its decision.
As evidenced by both the Referendum 1 vote and the advisory vote on future use of the Armory, our community is nearly evenly split when it comes to the direction of development in Aspen. And yet choices must still be made. This is when it’s most important for our elected officials to be true leaders — to make decisions based on facts, broad public input and what they believe is best for the present and future of our town.
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