Option B: The solution for the future
October 11, 2018
There is a furious lobbying campaign for Option A as the solution to the city's office space crunch. But in the flurry of letters there is a common critical defect: the proponents do not inform that Option A will not solve the city's future office space needs. By all credible estimates and planning Option A will not provide space for the 50-year solution the city of Aspen hopes to achieve.
Importantly, they mask the grand compromise at public expense that Option A seeks to achieve, that is, a way out the of the train wreck that all the interested parties find themselves in at this moment. Option A bails out the city to provide near term space. Putting option A on ballot bails out Krongberg et al from a lawsuit that has spun out of their control, they are losing. and can last for years. It bails out the developer Mark Hunt from an albatross property on his monopoly board (query, what has he built recently?). Like other offers that seem too good to be true, same here. It falls well short of providing any meaningful long-term office space solution, which was the genesis of this entire endeavor.
The city would be well-instructed to model its efforts after those of the hospital. Aspen Valley Hospital had a vision for a complex that would serve the community for half a century. Despite many of the same attacks (i.e., too large, costly, turf and empire building), AVH stuck to the plan, projected with clarity the criticality of its long term needs and won approval. The community is now and will in the future be the beneficiary of that foresight. Likewise, after years of study the city approved Plan B as the best option for office space out to the foreseeable horizon (and not have to re-visit this divisive issue). On paper it remains the superior alternative. While the advisory ballot measure can be viewed as a part of due diligence and public outreach, it remains to be seen if our elected officials pursue Option B through to conclusion irrespective of the tally on Nov. 6.
Neil B. Siegel