Ward Hauenstein: A non-Aspen resident’s campaign of misinformation

Ward Hauenstein
Guest Commentary

This is an open letter to the citizens of Aspen. In a time where everything seems to be divisive, Aspen is on the brink of celebrating two significant uniting accomplishments: lift alignment on the western portal of Aspen mountain and creation of new office spaces.

The need for new city offices has been known for over 10 years. The citizens of Aspen have the right to know the facts about where to build the city offices. Toni Kronberg offers a distorted version of the facts. Toni repeatedly misstates the facts about the buildings, where they are to be located, the zoning of the parcel, how the land was purchased and its intended uses. She has misrepresented the Civic Master Plan. Toni has been corrected many times but continues to present false information with no regard for the citizens’ right to know the facts.

Claim: The approved building is 19 feet over the existing code.

Fact: The parcel is zoned public. The height allowed in the public zone is determined by the site-specific development plan. The approved height of just below 47 feet is allowed in the zone.

Claim: Part of the building is to be built on the Galena Plaza open space.

Fact: None of the approved city offices on the Galena parcel will be built on open space. In fact, Galena Plaza open space increases in size.

Claim: Thirty-one parking spaces will be lost in the approved development.

Fact: Additional spaces in the parking garage will be developed, resulting in a slight gain in the total number of parking spaces.

Claim: Five hundred and forty-two valid city of Aspen registered voters signed the petition.

Fact: Three hundred and ninety valid signatures were on the petition. A successful petition required 640 signatures. The petition failed.

Toni accuses the prior council of failing to follow their own laws when approving city offices. She offers no foundation for this allegation. I was not on that council, but I support their decision. Litigation engineered by Toni has cost the citizens of Aspen over $2 million in construction inflation and legal fees.

Aspen’s elected officials analyzed many options and crafted a reasonable solution for new offices. This process included 38 meetings, compromises to meet public objections and downsizing from 60,000 to 37,000 square feet. The process started in November 2014 and ended in April. The height of this hypocrisy is the fact Toni wants to vote on the Galena parcel, yet she supports the city’s pending purchase of 517 E. Hopkins Ave. and lists one of the reasons being that it does not require a vote. Toni supports 517 E. Hopkins because it can be built quickly when her actions have manufactured the delays.

The truth of the matter is that Toni does not want anything built on the Galena parcel. She told me she is not concerned with wasting tax dollars. I do care. You should also care. A nonresident is willfully wasting Aspen tax dollars, depriving city staff of a modern, efficient and green work environment because she does not agree with where the offices are to be built.

My hope for Aspen is that the 517 Hopkins Ave. and Galena parcel options will be fully explored and the best solution be agreed upon. Limits on letters to the editor prevent further more in-depth discussion. I invite further discussion.

Ward Hauenstein is serving his first term as a member of the Aspen City Council.