Ballot question asking to redevelop base of Aspen Mountain has friends, foes |

Ballot question asking to redevelop base of Aspen Mountain has friends, foes

The city of Aspen has posted online pro and con statements about the ballot question that asks voters whether the base of Aspen Mountain should be redeveloped.

Written comments criticizing the proposal slightly outnumber those lauding it; 16 people wrote in favor and 17 verbalized their reasons why Aspen voters should vote “no.”

Mitzi Rapkin, the city’s director of community relations, said because the city is posing the question, officials wanted to publish pro and con statements to stay in line with the state’s Fair Campaign Practices Act.

The statements accompany the city’s fact sheet on the ballot question, which will be decided March 5 in the municipal election.

Rapkin noted that the statements made by individuals might not line up with the fact sheet.

“It might be opinion as opposed to fact,” she said of people’s written words.

There is no formalized opposition to the project, other than some groups posting on social media.

A campaign committee promoting the passage of the Lift One corridor development was formed last month. The group is called “One for Aspen” and was registered by Mick Ireland, a former Aspen mayor and newspaper columnist.

The development plan, which Aspen City Council referred to the voters via one question containing two land-use ordinances, involves over 300,000 square feet of commercial space at the base of Aspen Mountain’s west side.

The ordinances, which combined are 88 pages, detail the approvals for an 81-room hotel known as the Gorsuch Haus and a 104-key Lift One Lodge timeshare project. Both properties also have free-market condominiums.

Between those properties would be a new telemix chairlift that extends about 500 feet farther down the hill than where the current Lift 1A is located.

Other amenities in the entire Lift One corridor proposal are a ski museum, skier services and ski patrol operations in a relocated and refurbished Skiers Chalet Lodge to be situated next to the lift at Dean Street.

There also is a restaurant and bar planned for the Skiers Steakhouse building, as well as public parking and ski lockers, and other amenities.

The majority of elected officials have agreed on the projects’ general site plan, as well as the building’s size, height, affordable-housing mitigation, parking and the city’s contribution of $4.36 million for public amenities, among many details.

The public subsidy is one of the reasons to vote “no” on the ballot question, according to the con statements written.

Other criticisms are that the buildings are too big; the development urbanizes city open space; it would create traffic and construction impacts; it doesn’t provide enough employee housing; and that the ballot question is too complex, among other concerns.

Those in the “pro” camp said it’s the best public-private partnership they’ve seen in the city and it’s a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

They wrote that it would revitalize an area of town that would otherwise see residential and other unwanted development.

Proponents commend the property owners in the area who have come to an agreement to bring the lift to Dean Street, recognizing the historic base alignment of the original Lift One built in 1947.

Those who want a “yes” vote said the proposal allows World Cup skiing to return to Aspen with a new lift and restores historic assets related to the original one.

The new lodges and restaurant and ski activities would inject real estate transfer and sales tax revenue into tens of millions of dollars for the city, one of the developers noted in his pro statement.

The ballot question itself asks voters to approve or reject the overall development, as well as rezone land owned by Aspen Skiing Co. from conservation to lodge use, change the use of city property for a chairlift and allocate taxpayer dollars to the project — with many details between it all.

The pro and con statements can be found on the city’s website, on the clerk’s page, under departments and behind the “2019 Election Ballot Issue” button.

Aspen residents will be able to cast votes beginning Monday in person at City Hall. Ballots will be mailed out that day and should arrive in mailboxes by no later than the end of the week.

The ballots will be counted March 5, when the mayor and council race also will be decided, unless candidates are forced into a runoff if they do not receive a majority vote.