Blumenthal: Two cities, with many agendas | Opinion







This week, the story of two cities – one town, one village – but both with disruptive agendas.

The City of Aspen – in what appears to be a flawed public relations attempt to cover up the mess it has created by interfering and micromanaging the city-owned Yellow Brick Building’s early childhood programs – has announced prematurely that it had found a candidate to replace the longtime and respected Aspen playgroup, which the city and its Kids First advisory board have pressured with a new set of contract terms, which many consider untenable by a point from an operational standpoint and which also caused Aspen Mountain Tots, the other Yellow Brick child care provider, to reduce its current offerings, followed by a full shutdown in four years.

After several months of searching for another qualified approved supplier, only one anonymous candidate submitted a proposal, which is still in the negotiation stage.

Before the heavy hands of city bureaucrats, elected officials and the Kids First Advisory Board interfered, Yellow Brick’s early childhood programs and operations were enthusiastically supported by the parents who used their services. . Their concern now: to whom will the city entrust the safety, care and early education of their children?

If interfering with community child care operations isn’t enough, the city’s Living Lab experiment is getting a lot of negative feedback from the public, business owners, and even the Pitkin County Sheriff for the dangerous conditions that the experience has created, as well as the negative impacts on the commercial and resort experiences of our residents and guests.

In their effort to micromanage the use of the city’s public rights-of-way, elected officials and their staff have dramatically reduced the already limited number of downtown parking spaces in favor of more dedicated bike lanes — and even micromanagers are beginning to having second thoughts about all the unintended negative consequences that quickly emerged from their hastily implemented and poorly planned experiment during the peak summer season.

Then there’s the city staff’s convoluted and opaque plan to embezzle $500,000 to $1 million of Wheeler real estate transfer tax money to fund upgrades to arts facilities and equipment. , which has not yet obtained the adhesion of the municipal council.

I suspect a lot of that money is for the Isis Theater building, which the city now freely owns thanks to a recently completed transaction whereby the city’s economic support for its red brick Arts Center building owned by the municipality was transferred from the general fund to the Wheeler fund. This allowed the city to use general funds previously dedicated to the red brick to cover the buyout and some of the costs of Isis previously fully covered by operator sub-tenant Isis Theater, Metropolitan Theaters and Aspen Film, which has been incorporated into the agreement for many years. a few years ago to appease ratepayers, who feared the city was spending its general funds on a for-profit business venture. It turned out that due to structural changes in the theater industry, neither Metropolitan nor Aspen Film now have the resources to fully cover their annual capital and operating costs of Isis or to pay to the city a rent close to the market rate.

I suspect that once the city council figures out the staff game plan, they’ll probably jump on board and lavish even more dollars from the Wheeler fund on the Isis to free up more dollars from the general fund, as stated my colleague Paul Menter, “to feed the bureaucratic beast.

And to put a cap on Aspen’s agenda, the Pitkin County Board of Commissioners pushed back on calls from Aspen City Council to put a new countywide affordable housing tax issue. on the November ballot.

In essence, BOCC members are of the view that the many millions sitting in the Aspen piggy bank dedicated to affordable housing should be used to alleviate the affordable housing needs generated by the Aspen resort before placing any of their economic burden on the rest of the county.

In Snowmass Village, the once invincible all-powerful city manager is about to get his wings clipped a bit.

His current efforts to lobby the city council and the village rodeo board to fast-track approval of his entry plans to begin construction in late summer are running into serious headwinds.

Contrary to his earlier assurances that the rodeo board is on board with his plans, he received a letter from the board earlier this week stating that they were not yet aligned and, in addition to their own concerns, they supported serious security and other operational concerns detailed by the Roaring Fork Valley Horse Council. In addition, several members of the planning commission, as well as two members of the city council, who will soon be carrying out their regulatory review of the plans, have expressed their reservations and concerns.

Additionally, its plans to build a gigantic transportation hub adjacent to the mall have so far failed due to major cost overruns, which will likely also be the case with its Owl Creek roundabout project. Brush Creek and all of its expensive employee housing projects. be built on the steep slopes adjacent to the town hall.

Obviously, anything that opposes the accelerated “Aspenization” of the village and the urbanization of its historically small-town, rural-style character is a blessing that I fully support.

Let us know where you stand on these agenda items at [email protected] & [email protected]

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