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ISSUE #125: cANTeen Closed - No Party at the OPH  6/8/2016

Democracy is the art and science of running the circus from the monkey cage."  

-- H.L. Mencken



A quick update to inform you that last night, city council made the right decision.  Those words are rarely written in The Red Ant!!


With their 4-0 consensus decision to reject the terms of the proposed lease from the Aspen Power Plant (APP) for tenancy at the Old Power House (OPH), rational minds predominantly prevailed.


Mayor Steve Skadron positioned himself as the peacemaker, saying that the project had simply become "too divisive" for the town, and it was his job to end the divisiveness.  Good call, Steve! Wisely, he also included the suggestion that the OPH now be considered for temporary city office space.


Ann Mullins, on the other hand, blamed the APP's demise on "bitter losers" and "rules that changed through no fault of the applicant."  She reinvented history by saying that the original process had nothing to do with profit or non-profit.  The RFQ may not have specified profit motives, but NEVER in question was the underlying zoning of the OPH.  It's right there in black and white for all to see.  "I am not sure that any of the applicants would qualify under the new rules," she added.  There are no new rules, Ann.  And the existing rules are very, very clear.  In fact, EACH ANY EVERY ONE of the other applicants would qualify!  (She is up for re-election in 2017 BTW.)


Art Daily softened his pro-APP stance.  Recognizing the divisiveness created by council's 2015 decision and the ensuing negotiations, he relented and voted against APP.


Adam Frisch, never a fan of the APP at the OPH, wisely suggested a work session to explore all options for future use of the building, effectively reviving the discussion about the Galena Plaza / Taj Mahal City Hall space needs and plans. Adam, thank you for recognizing the obvious link between the two issues and thinking strategically about logical next steps!


The outcome is the right one.  Yet it is still amazing how emotionally intertwined council had become with this issue.  Even with their final decision, they failed to recognize the accountability issues surrounding their own process and their own failure to know and recognize the land use code.  For over a year, they were completely manipulated by the APP.  Without the neighborhood opposition that grew to include aggrieved non-profits and a diverse group of citizens who resented the special treatment granted the APP by city hall, council would likely have gone forward with their selection of the APP at the OPH, irrespective of the law.


This is a great example of citizen activism.  Yes, you CAN beat city hall.  It's never easy, and it can be a mind-numbingly frustrating process, but to sit by and do nothing is never the answer when the issues are this important.  Many thanks to all who took time to learn the facts, kept the debate alive, wrote to the papers and showed up at critical meetings.  You made the difference!  Your opinions DO matter and are exactly why we can celebrate this decision today.


HERE is the article on last night's meeting from the Aspen Times.




In Issue #124, I understated two facts:


 - APP did not propose to pay $10/SF for the upstairs of the OPH; they wished to pay $10/YEAR 


 - I stated that the city would have to spend $18K/month to rent 7200 SF of comparable space to temporarily house city offices during the 5 year construction of the Taj Mahal.  Make that $18,500 a WEEK!!  That would be $4.8 million over a 5 year period!  


As bad as my stated figures were, the real numbers were FAR worse!


I regret the errors.




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