Now, during the much awaited housing summit which will tackle some of the pressing issues regarding public housing projects in Aspen and Pitkin County, is a good time to correct my opponent’s misleading statement regarding my position on employee housing. In The Aspen Times candidate questionnaire in June before the primary, I answered how the $10 million accumulated fund for employee housing would best be spent:
“Since good sites for employee housing are limited, I would first try to acquire appropriate sites for future development. One parcel that has possibilities as either housing or new office space is the Zupancis property next to the Courthouse Plaza building. The county should try to purchase this soon, since it is in a prime location next to other county property.
“Buying already existing multi-family housing is a second good option, since this is the type of housing with the biggest demand. The county should work with realtors to try to find appropriate buildings as they become available.
“Finally, the county should consider the needs of elderly and retiring residents who wish to stay in the valley. Reserving spots in the soon-to-come continuing care facility in Basalt by helping with up front costs would be a good investment.”
Since that questionnaire was answered, the county has indeed hired a realtor to look for suitable properties to be acquired for employee housing. It has also come to light to the county commissioners that the $10 million in earmarked funds have strict conditions about how the money is spent, limiting their options. Also, the Aspen Valley Medical Foundation has closed on the purchase of the 17-acre site in the Pitkin County side of Basalt on which to build the continuing care facility, bringing that facility closer to reality. My thoughtful and balanced approach to acquiring new employee housing is still a valid approach to take.