The memories of those on City Council are frighteningly short. Either that, or they weren’t paying attention to big local news stories in 2008. That was when 27 members of our community spent hundreds of hours meeting in mediated sessions to hash out a master plan for the Lift 1A area. Remember the COWOP? The neighbors, the developers, Aspen Skiing Co. representatives, then-Councilman Dwayne Romero, community development director Chris Bendon, Mayor Mick Ireland, as well as other interested Aspen residents, participated in the formal city process. Public comment was encouraged, welcomed and appreciated.
By the end of 2008, the completed master plan included two ski lodges, a surface lift from Deane Street to 1A, a ski museum and underground parking. This plan was designed to provide much needed short-term lodging, improve the “vitality” at this side of our base area, and create a better venue for our World Cup races, all while maintaining the cherished view-plane corridor and housing the requisite employees on site. It was a good plan, achieved through the hard work of a diverse group of citizen volunteers.
The COWOP participants approved the plan and sent it forward to council for final approval. In January 2009, our mayor, Mick “I-voted-for-it-before-I-voted-against-it” Ireland, shocked the community when he voted at the council table to reject the master plan, citing his dissatisfaction with “the amount of high-end development that is continually proposed in Aspen,” despite never voicing this opposition during his tenure on the COWOP. Also rejecting the plan and dismissing the COWOP’s work was then and current Councilman Steve Skadron, who felt the project was “not right for the community.”
Landowners have recently proposed building 14 townhomes and 10 subsidized housing units on a section of the site, but council now wants them to build a lodge there. And ironically it’s Mick and Skadron leading the cry! Skadron feels that the proposed townhome/subsidized housing project “is not in the interest of the community.” (Apparently for Skadron, nothing is.) Mayor “hot bed” Ireland wants the developers to now find some “middle ground” so he can finally get some lodge rooms built. It would be funny if it were not true.
As George Santayana famously said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” I remember, and I bet you do to. Here we go again.