Letters to the Editor

Letter: Work together in Basalt

July 7, 2015 — 

I was thinking about responding to the letter that appeared July 4 in the Aspen Daily News (“Regaining control of Basalt development”). Instead, I went to our town planning website and listened to the taped program of the Downtown Area Advisory Committee report held at the library and moderated by Paul Andersen.

After rehearing that meeting from beginning to end, a meeting that was transparent and open to the community, it’s hard to respond to that segment of the population that was AWOL for over a year, who now blame the greedy developer for hijacking the property, lecture the public for “permitting the process to go forward,” faulting the Roaring Fork Community Development Corp. for trying to get its investment back and encouraging the town to “find” the resources to purchase the entire site (as long as it doesn’t require a personal contribution).

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Letter: Kudos on water-stingy toilets

July 7, 2015 — 

We have enjoyed Aspen Music Festival vacations for more than 30 years. They also provide an opportunity to look around to see changes. Learning that the library had temporarily relocated due to its major remodeling, I followed directions and located the nearby building while also discovering the John Denver Sanctuary.

In addition to enjoying the attractive landscaping and peaceful setting, I found a very handsome, stone, modern restroom facility — always a welcome discovery for travelers. What intrigued me was a “Clivusmultrum” foam flush toilet that uses a stingy 6 ounces of water per flush — only 5 percent of a standard 1.6-gallon toilet. This was largely odorless and worked most efficiently. While not likely a destination to bring out-of-town guests, it might interest locals who happen near the park to check out this innovative toilet, or go to www.clivusmultrum.com.

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Letter: Please clean those feeders

July 7, 2015 — 

On July 4, I watched a beautiful male Cassin’s finch struggle and suffer while dying from an eye disease. This sad tragedy occurs when bird feeders are unclean. An infected bird will transfer the disease to every feeder it visits, thereby potentially infecting every other bird that visits those same feeders. We can help! It is vital that we carefully wash, thoroughly rinse and completely dry bird feeders every two weeks before refilling them with fresh seed. Experts recommend a cleaning solution of 1 part bleach to 9 parts hot water. Please take this necessary step to ensure the health and longevity of our local birds, and remember to bring your feeders indoors at night to avoid attracting bears.

Catherine Hagen

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Letter: Stop throwing candy at the July Fourth parade

July 7, 2015 — 

I am writing this letter to the editor in regard to the candy throwing at the annual Aspen Fourth of July parade. Two years ago, both my spouse and I were hit multiple times at the parade with a barrage of candy, including tootsie pops with sticks attached, both of which were lobbed from an Aspen Fire truck. One of the sticks from the tootsie pop lodged in my spouse’s leg and another hit him just below his eye (had it not hit his sunglasses first, the damage could have been severe). I am happy to say that neither required medical care. Since this was not the first year we had been attacked with candy and suffered the stings and watched as children ran in front of vehicles to retrieve said candy, my spouse took it upon himself to go to the Fire Department with a sample of the tootsie pops with sticks and point out how dangerous any type of candy could be when it was hurled from atop an emergency vehicle or float, not to mention the children running from the curbs to retrieve said candy. Yes, there are barricades on the streets to prevent children from running to retrieve the candy but they are barely sufficient as the children just wriggle through the openings or go around them, all while their parents are looking on.

I am happy to report that this year the emergency vehicles we observed while at the parade were not throwing candy, however other entries were. This candy-throwing is strictly prohibited in all the publications advertisements for the parade, yet when it did happen and we asked an officer on duty to please stop it, she did ask a few floats to stop and then moved on down the street so as not to be bothered by us any longer and the candy throwing continued and we never saw her return to our area near the Hotel Jerome observation deck. There were a few entries that handed out candy and other prizes along the parade route and that seems a very reasonable way to do it. Why have a policy if it is not going to be enforced? What will it take to stop this very dangerous activity? Perhaps a child losing an eye will do it?

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Letter: Make greening Aspen a 'virtuous circle'

July 7, 2015 — 

I went to the work session last night on Greening Aspen in the City Council Chambers. There was a lot of good but also a lot of same old, same old. I wanted to hear solutions, and a great deal of the presentation was a series of proofs that climate change exists. I got it, the City Council gets it, now move forward. How do we leverage our unique position as a nature lovers paradise, a hub of international powerbrokering and a vortex for the ultra wealthy? We have a start with leading by example with Canary and CORE, but it doesn’t begin to flex the muscles which are Aspen. Aspen doesn’t excel by doing what everyone else is doing — Aspen is what it is because we risk new ideas.

The biggest slice of the emissions pie is residences and rentals. Certainly Bert’s suggestion of embedding the building code with sustainable requirements helps but that is only a stick. I get 20 percent of my rentals because of a little green leaf logo from Clean Energy Collective. Property managers’ ears should prick up at that. Which would you rather have: $500 from the city of Aspen for being “green” or a 20 percent increase in revenue because of a green leaf logo? I’d love to double down on my green leafies with a green aspen leaf stamp from the city of Aspen for my CORE improvements. It costs the city nothing other than confirming CORE has worked with a property manger and designing a leaf logo.

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Letter: Just trying to stay dry on the Fourth of July

July 7, 2015 — 

Does everyone love getting soaked at the Fourth of July parade? Whatever happened to folks being able to sit or stand and cheer comfortably for the many wonderful floats and demonstrations instead of having to run or duck or hide from the thoughtless parade participants?

Where we were sitting, there was an older gentleman sitting in a wheelchair who got utterly soaked. What fun! A lot of folks had to drive back down valley to change clothes instead of being able to enjoy the rest of the day’s festivities.

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Letter: Just another summer playground

July 6, 2015 — 

Calling all true Aspenites:

I have not lived in Aspen for years, but last evening after a fantastic Fourth filled with meaningful activities and everything I cherish about Aspen, I decided to pay homage to one of my personal sacred places in this valley — now known as the North Star Preserve – long ago a simple dirt path, open shallows and a purple-tinged field across (complete with tepee). I recall a snowshoe hike there, contemplating the birth of my son, trying to feel his name and the change in that valley as a goshawk swept through.

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Letter: Focus on what we're doing right

July 6, 2015 — 

The “Afternoon of Conversation” on July 1 progressed smoothly and timely. Gen. David Petraeus was held for last, no doubt, to keep patrons to the end. It was well worth it.

Tough questions were not the order of the day. Walter Isaacson remained an expert at political correctness even when the audience was anxious for revelation from the person under the gun.

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Letter: Lend a hand or write a check

July 5, 2015 — 

After we all enjoyed our long weekend in Aspen hiking and mountain biking, I’d like to point out that the Forest Service has endured major budget cuts that impacts our trails. They are literally being loved to death and need you to help care for them. If you have some time, volunteer with the Roaring Fork Outdoor Volunteers. If you have no time but appreciate those who give their time to keep these amazing trails in sustainable, enjoyable and safe shape, please make a donation to help volunteers do the work. This is Roaring Fork Outdoor Volunteers’ 20th anniversary season, and every time you volunteer on a project you get a chance to win a $3,500 Yeti! You get a great workout, meet some very cool people and at the end of the day, kick back with an icy brew and a tasty dinner! We’ve got projects all summer — check out the website at www.rfov.org and do your part to keep our trails amazing.

Gail Mason

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Letter: Rabbis is right

July 5, 2015 — 

Kudos to Rabbi David Segal for cutting through the fog of human behavior to show what often drives people, nations and peoples to do terrible things (“Hate is all you need,” July 4, Commentary, The Aspen Times). His tongue-in-cheek analysis was hilarious — or would have been were it not so tragic. The impact became clear and overwhelming as he walked through each level of human and societal interaction, suggesting/deriding hate as the way to solve problems.

Thank you, Rabbi Segal, for your clever take on the mess we humans create for ourselves. Would that we all take it to heart and change our ways.

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Letter: Racism is institutional

July 5, 2015 — 

Since the Charleston, South Carolina, massacre of African Americans in their place of worship by a deranged white gunman, numerous commentators have expressed a variety of opinions about U.S. racial matters, some insightful, others off-base. To identify this brutality as an isolated racist event by a lone wolf is delusory and neglects proper understanding of the United States’ deeply racialized — indeed racist — history, which still operates on many levels, particularly structural levels (U.S. criminal justice system, housing, education), not just in the actions of unchecked racist rage, an outdated technique of old-school racism.

Despite claims that the U.S. is now a postracial, colorblind society, this country remains racially segregated between whites and people of color and structurally unequalized and fundamentally unjust along color lines that W.E.B. Du Bois so perceptively describes. One need not look far beyond the Roaring Fork Valley. Aspen, the exclusive enclave of the power elite, is lily white; in contrast, virtually every trailer park in the valley is inhabited by Latinos. Similarly, those enjoying Aspen’s glorious space and amenities are almost exclusively white, whereas Latinos comprise much of the workforce providing the necessary manual labor and long hours of work that keep Aspen so pristine a “fantasy island” for its white clientele. This is no slight to those hardworking, mostly if not all white real estate brokers who must carriage the wealthy around in their air-conditioned Range Rovers to find their targets’ next overpriced trophy home: I cannot image what that must be like!

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Letter: Time will tell

July 3, 2015 — 

Recently, President Barack Obama has renewed his claim to be the progressive Ronald Reagan. By this, the president means he is transforming America in a progressive direction, as Reagan led the country onto a more conservative course. Charles Krauthammer observed that the Reagan revolution lasted more than 30 years because his policies worked. Time will tell whether Obama’s work.

Besides the difference between conservatism and progressivism, chasms separate Obama from Reagan. Whenever Reagan explained why he preferred this or that policy, he explained how it would help all the people. When Obama explains his policies, he stresses that they will help one class of the people at the expense of another class. When Obama fails, he blames Republicans. When Reagan failed, he blamed himself.

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Letter: Thanks, Buddies

July 3, 2015 — 

Thanks, Buddies

On June 23, more than 100 Little Buddies, Big Buddies and some of their family members attended the Buddy Program’s Annual Picnic at Arbaney Park in Basalt to celebrate summer and their wonderful relationships.

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Letter: Hans never got to realize his dream

July 2, 2015 — 

Hans Gramiger and I started the project in the summer of 1975 or 1976.

It was before the Hyman Street Mall was created. I remember Hans bought me breakfast at the White Kitchen. We pulled up right in front.

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Letter: Aspen Ideas moderator bias

July 2, 2015 — 

Aspen Ideas. It is a wonderful event with many informative sessions. The variety is a credit to the organizers bringing together diverse interests and personalities. Not a patron, I was able to attend the vast majority of public events with tickets purchased at the Wheeler. Yes, I was there very early the Friday the tickets went on sale.

From conservatives for president to gun control to issues on Iran, with respect to nuclear arms and Islam and the American Dream, insight was provided by experts and authorities. Media talking heads were prominently on site, most often as moderators. The liberal-progressive bias was not as intense as in years passed. There were times when inappropriate laughter arose from select groups of attendees toward conversation not favorable to their thinking. Moderators are best when unbiased. Some just cannot contain themselves. Injecting personal opinion through untimely telling traits, side comments or abrupt injections using revealing adjectives. Call it the Candy Crowley syndrome. Sorry to the reader, but it is hard not to mention Jonathen Capehart and his arrival on stage at the Belly Up with french fries in hand and a haughty attitude toward the conservative panelists he was about to question. At the opposite end of the spectrum was Steve Clemons who brought forth from his interviewees cogent conversation on the Iran nuclear negotiations. Bias should come from the panelists making possible debate.

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Letter: Working together for broadband

July 2, 2015 — 

I have just attended this year’s Mountain Connect conference in Vail where the theme was developing rural broadband infrastructure through public/private partnerships. The conference was excellent and well attended by more than 350 people, including local technology planning teams, county officials and industry representatives from every corner of the state. They came together to hear from industry experts on the latest trends in technology and local technology planning teams on their successes and lessons learned. Governor Hickenlooper’s staff announced at the conference that building broadband infrastructure throughout the state is their No. 1 economic development priority. Last fall, the governor announced that the Department of Local Affairs was making $20 million available to local governments for planning and building open access rural broadband infrastructure. The good news is Department of Local Affairs has already committed or spent $19 million and is working with almost every part of rural Colorado, including Northwest Colorado, to put these funds to work. There also are substantial sources of funds available from the federal government to build broadband infrastructure for three of our most important entities: schools and libraries, hospitals and first responders.

Here in northwest Colorado, your counties, regional council of governments and local technology planning teams are busy planning and building the broadband infrastructure needed for our future economy. Pitkin County has just received $150,000 from Department of Local Affairs for network engineering and connectivity within the Roaring Fork Valley. In Steamboat Springs, our local technology planning teams (Northwest Colorado Broadband Inc.) has used a public/private partnerships to built a carrier neutral location, purchased middle mile capacity for a group of community anchor institutions and seen their cost of broadband service drop by up to 90 percent. Our next step, in both cases, is to prepare a comprehensive broadband plans to identify the options for providing abundant, reliable and affordable service for all of our residents. Similar efforts are under way throughout the 12,000 square miles of Colorado Mountain College’s district.

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Letter: Please give a hoot

July 1, 2015 — 

What an exciting time of year this is! Birds are nesting; some of the young have hatched; others have recently fledged. It is critical that cats be kept indoors so that our declining bird populations are protected. Please help preserve the birds that call our valley home.

Catherine Hagen

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Letter: Come hear the cheers

July 1, 2015 — 

Seventy years ago, after a long struggle, World War II ended. The Allies, including 16 million young Americans, saved the world from tyranny and domination. Our eternal gratitude goes to them. We also salute all of the men and women who have served and those who, by choice, continue to serve today.

All U.S. veterans, active duty members and reservists, locals and visitors, are invited to join the Thanks to Our Veterans entry in Aspen’s Fourth of July parade. Meet on Main Street by Paepcke Park at 10 a.m. Rides are available. For more information, please call me, Hugh Roberts, at 970-927-4194 or Sally Glenn at 970-948-8278 or use our email at aspenvetsparade@comcast.net. Come hear the cheers and applause for your service along the entire parade route.

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Letter: Thank you, Boogie

July 1, 2015 — 

There are few people who consistently embody a commitment to their community and to helping those who are in need. Lenny “Boogie” Weinglass is one such individual. From the moment he moved to Aspen, he has been a generous but humble supporter of so many important organizations and individuals.

Pathfinders is one such organization to benefit from the generosity of Boogie. Boogie has offered support to Pathfinders and has been an effective partner and cheerleader for our nonprofit.

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Letter: People know what they're signing

July 1, 2015 — 

In June 29’s Aspen Times front-page article, Mark Hunt said that it would be “really kind of sad” if the Base2 Lodge proposal were to lose, as it is “something the community is behind.” In our experience out there gathering signatures, it appears that many thoughtful Aspenites are in no way blinded by the promise of “affordable” hotel rooms on Main Street. Petition signers are also not behind tolerating another cave-in by the City Council to once again grant significant multiple land-use variances to a downtown commercial project.

Hunt said he does not “want to fight against people who have not seen the project.” Guaranteed, a majority of petition signers have “seen the project” and are fully aware of the development plans that include a huge Main Street lot-line-to-lot-line box structure (two times the zoning code) at the gas-station site next to Carl’s Pharmacy. On-site parking has been dumped in favor of a bowling alley or other commercial venture in the basement area. The building will generate parking issues!

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Letter: Gasoline prices and the value of your property

July 1, 2015 — 

I have written several columns and a number of letters on the artificially high prices of gasoline in the Roaring Fork Valley. My argument is that prices have been elevated relative to the prices of gasoline in Denver ever since the principal supplier of gasoline in the valley, Western States Petroleum, was acquired by Pilot, a privately owned Tennessee firm that owns, among other things, truck stops. The family that owns Pilot also owns the Cleveland Browns.

Recently there have been two new developments in the gasoline marketing area. First, residents in northern Vermont filed a class action against petroleum retailers in the area for artificially high gasoline prices. The suit follows a Federal Trade Commission report prepared for Sen. Bernie Sanders that found that prices in the area were 10 cents a gallon higher than would have been predicted by the agency’s models. I am certain the FTC would reach a similar conclusion were it to examine the gasoline market in the valley. However, no one seems to care.

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Letter: Regaining control of Basalt development

July 1, 2015 — 

Editor’s note: This letter was original sent to town of Basalt council members and staff.

The latest round of options presented to the town for redevelopment of the former Pan&Fork property seem to be entirely driven by the needs of the developers; not surprising in light of the fact that the architects are the same group employed by the developers.

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Letter: Not that bad

July 1, 2015 — 

The Bill Day cartoon showing ISIS and the Ku Klux Klan as equally evil is an attempt to show American blacks as targets of the KKK to the same extent non-Muslims are targets of ISIS. This is ridiculous. ISIS controls millions of people and kills tens of thousands of non-Muslims. The KKK has hundreds of members and kills nobody.

William Bernstein

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Letter: Paying for poor planning

July 1, 2015 — 

There is quite a bit of discussion (“Debate intensifies over Basalt breach,” The Aspen Times, June 24) going on over whether the town of Basalt had a good plan for the Pan and Fork property for when the Roaring Fork hit flood stage. The river has topped the boulder wall erected for the town and eroded some of the path and topsoil that had been put in place. An initial estimate to repair the damage is $25,000.

Thinking about planning, if the original plan was to remove that “embarrassing” fire hydrant currently on an island in the river, why wasn’t it done before the channel and topsoil were placed? Heavy equipment will be needed to excavate it and the line going to it, which will disturb all those “improvements.” That’s another extra cost. Oh, well — $25,000 here, $25,000 there. Pretty soon you’re talking about real money (to paraphrase former Sen. Everett Dirksen).

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Letter: A parking solution

June 30, 2015 — 

Editor’s note: The following letter originally was addressed to the members of the Aspen City Council.

1. If anyone is aware of Aspen’s parking problem, it is you!

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Letter: Quite a ride through Aspen's history

June 30, 2015 — 

As summer and tourists arrive in our town, I’d like to suggest a wonderful venue to get away from the heat and the crowds. The Aspen Historical Society is having a truly fascinating, funny and informative exhibit at their headquarters in one of the last remaining grand old homes here at 620 Bleeker St.

The Exhibit is called “Bests Firsts and Worsts: Aspen in Objects.” Take a stroll through Aspen history, its artifacts and the most entertaining set of docents one could ask for. The hearty, colorful, fascinating, historical, complimentary magazine you get at the end is worth far more than the modest admission, $6, I think (free for members).

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Letter: Let's work together to preserve North Star Preserve

June 30, 2015 — 

As longtime residents east of Aspen in the North Star area, we have witnessed significant changes in the use of the Roaring Fork River. What was once a peaceful waterway is now the conduit for hundreds of floaters who come through daily on various crafts: paddle boards, canoes, flimsy rafts, inner tubes and even an occasional pool toy. Coolers sometimes have their own floating device. This is interesting because the open-container law only applies to people who occupy navigable crafts, which does not include inner tubes.

When sitting in a stationary position, like on our porch, the impact of floaters becomes vividly clear. The cacophony builds throughout the day and hits a crescendo around 2 in the afternoon. Often, we hear revellers at the put-in, long before we see them. Yells fill the air fueled by shock when the bikini or shorts-clad adventurers meet the frigid water. This may be accentuated by blustery curse words sometimes repeated ad nauseum. Powerful speakers frequently blast music, accentuating the party atmosphere..

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Letter: Markers between path bridge and tent bride?

June 30, 2015 — 

As one who is often on the Rio Grande Trail, I was taken aback a few days ago to see height poles within a few feet of the fence, just to the north of the path — between the bridge that goes to the Meadows and the bridge that leads to the tent. Today, I noticed a survey boundary marker on the river side of the path. Is there a house going up there? If so, it will change the whole character of that area.

Andrea Stryer

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Letter: Help the bears as a community

June 29, 2015 — 

I was so saddened and discouraged — once again — to read in both local papers on June 26 that a bear will probably be euthanized because it broke into a tent near Ruedi Reservoir on June 24 and bit a man on the arm (“Bear bites man at Ruedi campground,” The Aspen Times).

It appears that food and other scented items were in the tent, but far worse, there were apparently coolers of food and freshly caught fish as well as trash that the bear rummaged through before it even continued on to the tent. As Perry Will, area wildlife manager for Colorado Parks and Wildlife, stated, “Bears are very smart and inquisitive” — and, I will add, usually hungry! This bear was doing what comes naturally, and now it may be killed for it.

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Letter: Working for those at the top

June 29, 2015 — 

People can’t seem to grasp that whether they vote Republican or Democrat, they get almost exactly the same thing. One party, two heads. All this campaigning is just a monkey show to divert the voters. You live in a corporate police state. The economy and the government are run by the bankers for their benefit, not yours.

All the hundreds of trillions in global debt are debts only to those who have to pay them. To those at the top of the pyramid who hold title to all that debt, they are assets. They want them paid off with interest by you, or you face bankruptcy and ruin.

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