Letter: Our town needs this
November 20, 2014
Our town needs this
As someone who grew up in Aspen and has lived here for a number of years as an adult, I just want to encourage the City Council to get behind the Power House of Aspen proposal and get that place into action. Our community desperately needs it. We know we don't need another brewery here nor another movie studio, and as nice as a science center would be, we already have scientists and thinkers speaking at the Aspen Institute frequently, as well as at the Aspen Physics Center, which also has great programming for children.
The science center would be nice for about a week, but we don't have the population, nor the acreage, to make a mostly kid-friendly science center a year-round community asset. What we do need, though, is a community center in the city of Aspen. We don't need another youth center — though I remember our old Aspen one fondly — because we have such tremendous and extensive rec center, Red Brick and elementary, middle and high school facilities that our town has put so many resources into developing over the years. What we do need is a community center. The proposal for the Power House of Aspen is really quite remarkable; it's almost as though it ties together the best parts of many of the other ideas for the space. The John Denver Café would be a phenomenal little place to grab a bite or a tea and sit and watch the river go by. Do we have one restaurant in town with that fantastic view? Now that we know Little Annie's has closed for good, we have also lost another of the few affordable sit-down restaurants in town, and the John Denver Café at the Power House of Aspen could help fill that void. It would be a phenomenal place to send tourists as well to not only visit an historic part of Aspen but to catch a piece of nature while supporting this nonprofit community center. Space for weddings and events in Aspen that would normally be out of reach for many working families in the valley would suddenly be a possibility, as the community center could have sliding-scale rental rates for space. Imagine the beautiful scene down by the river, as couples, accompanied by their families and friends who might never have been able to afford to get married in Aspen, suddenly are getting married in the most beautiful place in town. People struggling with mental-health issues and therapists or pastoral care providers willing to donate their time could be paired together in private rooms at the Power House to work toward emotional balance and to help prevent the suicides that our community is all too familiar with. The idea of having a bookstore upstairs is phenomenal, not only for generating extra revenue for the nonprofit business but as a hedge against the risk of losing our only town bookstore when Explore Booksellers may lose its home. Meeting places for the self-help and mental-health support groups of our community in a safe, healthy, beautiful, welcoming environment instead of the hospital area where people are presently often forced to go, which increases the emotional toll on them by suggesting they are sick or that there is something wrong with them, would be a great improvement and a boost onto the path of physical and mental wellness. The Power House, a gathering place for Aspen, just seems like a perfect fit. I know this sounds like a commercial, but I have nothing to do with this project other than reading the proposal that a friend sent along to me. Our town needs this. City Council, don't make any mistake about that.
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