Letters to the Editor
Every year the city of Aspen surveys a randomly selected group of residents to solicit feedback and opinions on our organization. The essence of the survey is to find out how you think the city is doing with providing services, meeting our residents’ needs and responding to problems. We also want to know which issues you feel are most important for the city to tackle.
We realize another piece of mail in your box may not elicit boundless joy, but please know that you are an integral part of helping us improve so we can provide you with the type and quality of government services you want. The five or so minutes it takes you to fill out the survey can lead to positive change.Learn more »
As visitors to Aspen, my wife and I had the opportunity to see the new art museum downtown. After leaving the museum, we were shocked to see workers still constructing the second exit stair out of the museum. How can a new building be open while the basic emergency exits are not finished?
We were concerned that the city didn’t value our safety and potentially put us in danger. After thinking about it, we realized there were very few patrons in the museum and there would be few lives to lose. After we climbed the one exit stair to the top (the elevator wasn’t operational), the turtles were gone, and there wasn’t any art displayed. We went down a level to see an exhibition of temporary refugee housing. Although interesting, we don’t understand how this is art. Is there a shortage of refugee housing because there is not enough art being created for them to live in?Learn more »
I find it very interesting, but not surprising, that Hamas is celebrating victory in the horrible jihadist war that it started and brought onto itself and Israel!
Gaza will take about 10 years to rebuild (if Hamas doesn’t start shooting mortars and rockets again), with over 2,000 lives lost in Gaza and over 70 dead Israelis. In war there are no real winners — just pain and loss on both sides; one side kills more than the other side.Learn more »
Blaming the victim and considering Israel the victim of biased media coverage seems the main theme of Aryeh Green’s column (“Subtlety Lost (With my apologies to John Milton),” Commentary, Aug. 28, The Aspen Times).
The Israel-Palestine conflict comes down to the desires of two people for the same land and water. On the one side you have the indigenous Palestinians and the other the Israeli Jews. Feeling a need for a state with a majority of Jews due to anti-Semitism, European Jews in the late 1800s chose to make a Jewish state in an Arab area called Palestine. They chose this place because of the Biblical references. Since 1947, Jews have been displacing Palestinians, since 1967 militarily occupying them in the West Bank and since 2007 caging them in the Gaza Strip because the Palestinians elected Hamas to the displeasure of Israel and the U.S.Learn more »
Maybe I missed it, but I do not remember anyone in the Dancing Bear tunnel discussion at City Council asking how the person in the street is supposed to use it. The tunnel runs from “hotel” to “hotel,” so room service can be enhanced. How do the people in the street wearing ski boots and carrying skis get into it? Perhaps they go to the lobby of one of the hotels and register.
Some fog has descended on Aspen — the same one that produced the art museum and its tortoises now produces a tunnel between two hotels.Learn more »
Now that private enterprise has proved pedestrian tunnels might work on Durant, how about our city fathers consider a “yield to pedestrian” sign at the corner of Cooper and Monarch? Or maybe a real “stop” sign
The Limelight contributes a great deal to this community, and the thought that any of the many visiting children, skipping to and fro to Wagner Park, would be squashed in traffic truly is a horror waiting to happen.Learn more »
As organizers of the petition drive to force a vote on the now-rescinded lodging ordinance, we wanted to thank everyone who volunteered their time and energy to this effort as well as the community-at-large for its support.
Many of the people circulating petitions in town told us it was the first time they became directly involved in Aspen’s sometimes contentious political process. We thank them for their courage and the care they have for the community and its long-term prospects.Learn more »
I was one of the people collecting signatures for the referendum petition to let the voters decide on Ordinance 19, the one I call the “block the view, subsidize the developers” ordinance.
After seeing how ready Aspenites were to sign, without any convincing or arm twisting at all, I realized how disconnected and arrogant Councilman Adam Frisch is concerning his Aspen constituents, whom he refers to as “the opposition.” I was all set to elaborate on how a 3-2 majority of the council conspired against the vast majority of the voters when I came across Roger Marolt’s column in Friday’s Aspen Times.Learn more »
I love Aspen
Hello, my name is Aleeyah Slater. I am 7 years old. I have been visiting Aspen for the past five years. I live in New York City. It is very noisy here, and also everybody lives in small apartments. In Aspen, it is usually quiet. Sometimes I like some quiet, and sometimes I like noise.Learn more »
Dear Mayor Skadron and Aspen City Council members,
Ride on. That’s what I say about the USA Pro Challenge race. This is hard to say, but many residents, of what I believe is the greatest four-season resort in the world, could learn a lot from places like little old Breckenridge.Learn more »
Think about it, how many times in a person’s lifetime do you get a second chance? The original Base Village planned-unit development seems to be horribly flawed, so why not take this opportunity to slow down and amend it?
Let’s try to get what’s good for our community and our guests, not for some hedge-fund investors. By taking another look at the planned-unit development, we will be able to analyze each project on its specific merits instead of accepting a overwhelming, undetermined project that may or may not take us on a construction journey for many years to come.Learn more »
Letter: A lackluster entrance to AspenAugust 30, 2014 —
I’m well aware that our local residents do not like to be compared to Vail in any way, nor Basalt for that matter. But, the fact remains that the flowers in and around the entrance to Vail are vastly more attractive than the tall weeds that adorn the roundabout at the entrance to Aspen.
The white lights on the trees are beautiful, but they are in the winter. Spring time and summer could be, should be, at least as attractive as the daisies and other greenery that adorn our recycle “park.” The city spends countless dollars on all types of consultants, but hasn’t found a few dollars to make the entrance to Aspen beautiful and inviting. I have even heard that some folks don’t want to make the entrance attractive as that might increase the desirability of the town to the folks visiting Aspen. Also, perhaps that is the underlying reason why residents dodge the issue of the traffic snarl of the S-curves and doing something to fix that problem.
While I’m at it, the median between the airport and the roundabout is never mowed. It is a tangle of weeds! Why not at least mow it a couple of times a season? It appears as if folks just don’t care. Well, the reality is, many of us do care, and would like to see a more presentable and cared for entrance to Aspen.
Also, kudos to whomever plants and tends to the flowers at the end of several West End streets and the next-to-last curve on Highway 82 as one enters Aspen.
North Carolina and Aspen
Letter: Sickened by the health-care adsAugust 30, 2014 —
I have hit mute one too many times in order to block out the appalling mistruths of the latest Karl Rove Crossroads GPS ad about Obamacare. And I understand that those who want to make Obama a villain seize every opportunity to malign his programs. But really? I must speak out. What happened to vetting statements and being honest? The ad is twisted.
Last weekend I met a health-care executive who has been consulting with hospitals and medical professionals in Colorado for 30 years. He came up to our booth at the Saturday market and said: “I just want you all to know that those negative ads being blasted over Colorado airwaves are completely wrong. Obamacare is working, and those of us in the industry are pleased with the progress. There are, of course, things to be fixed, but nothing in that ad is true. Some people who can afford it may be paying a little bit more than they were paying, but there are also millions insured now who were not before.”
What happened to truth in advertising? Obama cares — and I think it’s time to speak out against the obvious racism inherent in the blame game that pretends to be something else. The lies are designed to feed the need to justify hate. It sickens me.
Letter: No more tortoise talkAugust 30, 2014 —
Can y’all please squash the tortoise talk? Move on. I mean, you took out a full-page ad. That’s pricey. Spend that money on someone who is in need, such as the homeless or kids who are starving in Africa. As Ferris Bueller so eloquently put it: “The movie is over. It’s over! Go home. Go.”
Letter: Revitalizing the Aspen paradiseAugust 29, 2014 —
Revitalizing the Aspen paradise
The good news this summer in town is that the crane index hit four, and with the addition of our new tiptop art museum we could come closer to filling up the economic dead space during the off seasons. If the museum can secure world-class exhibits as well as cutting-edge tortoise art during our do-nothing downtime, fuller Gulfstreams will fill the second private jet port. Since jet people often travel with a wealthy posse, Aspen businesses, real estate and hotel bookings will improve. With this, the extra-tall lodges slated to rim the base of Aspen Mountain could see an uptick year-round. More affluence will flow into Aspen like life-giving water.
As the obsolete ski-town style buildings are replaced by neo-Palladian designed by famous architects, along with their right to acquire the surrounding parking spaces for planters, loading-zones and/or Ferrari parking, citizens won’t drive into town because there will be no parking. But with fewer slots the city will lose violations revenue needed to support the free bus routes, while bus ridership will increase by default. More riders on more buses will balloon the RFTA deficit unless fares go up, finally making the service ripe for privatization. Seniors and locals would then have to pay their fair share. What parking is left should be leased to valet parking, concierge services, construction vehicles, rent-a-bike racks, and electric-snowmobiles in winter.
High-end flea markets, polo, foodie festivals, and concerts ought to be permitted more time to button up Wagner and Rio Grande parks. Since locals will be working more jobs, the need for lazin’ around on the grass would be minimal. By leasing the parks more often, the city might balance its budget. Besides, who really needs in-town parks when there is so much under-used big-government wilderness within easy reach?
Our handful of farsighted landlords should consider stitching together a few tear-down lots for a domed arena with underground parking, wherein more imaginative downtown events could be held even in bad weather. Hungry pot conventioneers, tech/app conferences, and daredevil symposia for young adults would add to the neck-badge-wearing visitors who spend freely and walk in the streets.
And, seriously, cage-fighting competition in the “Heck Arena” could cement a new demographic during the horse latitudes of April, May, September and October. This competition would catch on as a new extreme sport for locals, attracting world-class athletes who might reignite timeshare sales. Aspen could harvest untapped market share with direct flights from Cleveland, Detroit and Oklahoma City.
Such a comprehensive economic strategy would be rubber-stamped by our threesome majority on City Council. This will put the match to demand and keep construction in town going full steam. Vital jobs in concierge services, property management, security, shuttle driving, fitness training, and masseurology will increase. Out-of-town contractors will thrive, too. More new banks will open and prosperity will trickle down to the temporary workers.
Aspen as our fully realized paradise is within reach. Any slowdown would be Obama’s fault.
Yours in the flag.
Letter: A plea for help to install son’s plaqueAugust 29, 2014 —
A plea for help to install son’s plaque
Remember Stirling! It’s been 15 years (Aug. 28) since my son died in an accident near Green River, Utah. He fell while trying to climb out of a canyon where he was river rafting — flash-flood conditions.
His family misses him greatly, of course, and tributes to him are still in the works. Recent actions include efforts to place a plaque on the “Stirling Cooper Open Space,” a 54-acre site on the back of Aspen Mountain that I sold to Pitkin County. Interest and help would be appreciated.
Also needed are suggestions in regard to where to place the plaque. It needs to be somewhere on the site, and a place which can be reached reasonably by the public. Unfortunately, Pitkin County officials and the county commissioners gave away the rights for the public to use the historic road which served the area. There is some talk of creating a new, long trail from the Little Annie Basin, but I can find no evidence of any “negotiations” for such access. Such a trail seems highly unlikely and basically impractical.
It’s been five years since Pitkin County bought my six patented claims which constitute this Stirling Cooper Open Space, and during that time I have been constructing makeshift, often very steep, trails. They start about a block up the Little Annie Road and go up to two areas — the Storm King cabin and the historic Quien Sabe (caved) mine. Only a few souls have been brave enough to hike the loop and branch trails, which total about 2.5 miles. This is truly “wilderness” territory, with great views of Mt. Hayden and of the Ashcroft valley from the end of the Quien Sabe trail branch (newly improved!).
Even my (temporary) trail work is apt to disappear, along with the public’s opportunities to hike the trails. There are political hurdles and problems with gaining new access from the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management. Perhaps the errors of the county commissioners can be corrected. All of the needed efforts require the involvement of some young(er) persons. I am just about 83 years old, and each trip up my trails to repair and improve them (working at steep grades at high altitudes) is getting to be harder and harder.
Do I have any moral, political or physical support? Suggestions? Contact me at email@example.com. Or write to Box 201, Aspen 81612. In the summers I live in New Castle.
In any case, cheers and love to my son, Stirling! He would be 53 years old.
Letter: Skiers return to gridironAugust 29, 2014 —
Skiers return to gridiron
Aspen High School varsity football returns to the home turf this Friday. Game time is 7 p.m. Come make some noise for your Aspen Skiers. Admission is $5 for adults, $4 for students, and $3 for senior citizens. Booster members are admitted free. Concessions will be open, so come enjoy some food. And halftime entertainment will come from the Aspen High School girls dance team.
So pack the parking lot and fill the bleachers. Aspen would love your support. Lauren Jackson
Letter: Letter writer should check his factsAugust 29, 2014 —
Letter writer should check his facts
Allyn Harvey suggests that I had some personal stake in the new lodging ordinance (“Beware DeFrancia,” letters, Aug. 28, The Aspen Times).
That could not be further from the truth.
In fact, the proposal for the Boomerang with which I am involved is being processed under the existing ordinance dating back to 2005.
Moreover, the proposal being advanced under that ordinance calls for less density, height and mass than that which is already approved!
Allyn should secure the facts before offering biased criticism.
As to the now rescinded lodging ordinance, my issue was with process. Making laws by referendum is neither the most efficient nor productive process as opposed to allowing council and staff to formulate them. As stated in my opinion, if we don’t like what council does, then we vote them out.
Allyn needs to reflect on the substance on of my comments and not misinformation from a bias against development ... and it’s always good to have the facts.
Letter: Forever an AmericanAugust 28, 2014 —
Forever an American
Thoughts on Vietnam, 45 years and one month after coming home:
There was a time so many years ago, when we were brothers, young men who once gave all we had. I did not consciously pick these men; fate/God gave them to me. I knew these men in a way that I have known no other person, before or since. I have never given anyone since that time, such trust as I gave those men. We were willing to guard and protect something as precious and valuable to us as each other’s lives. It was part of the bond of brotherhood we all made, the reason we were so willing to die for each other !
I still feel that same way for my country!
Anh em để kết thúc, nhưng cuối cùng là không được nêu ra ở đây!
Letter: Calling out RelatedAugust 28, 2014 —
Calling out Related
Dear Snowmass Village Town Council,
Some years ago, Snowmass Village residents lost confidence in Related. We could no longer trust this company or its spokepersons. Non-performance and misrepresentations to the town of Snowmass Village were the issues. Lying is the most common cause of losing confidence in someone forever.
Strong, lasting, win-win relationships are built on trust. How might Related regain our confidence?
Related could commit to stop being duplicitous and be more transparent in its interactions with us.
Related could admit and own up to its failures and explain them to us in a way we could understand.
Related could decide to work with us in a way that all our interests were considered.
Related could decide to complete those Base Village projects they start.
The confidence-building could take years, be ultimately successful and the interactions with our town, though not perfect, could be more peaceful, forthright and ingenuous.
Nancy and Phil Shalen
Letter: Bike race was fantasticAugust 28, 2014 —
Bike race was fantastic
I am writing in Response to Robin DeYoung’s letterin the Times on Aug. 25, whining about our amazing two car-free days in Aspen.
First of all, I wish to address her claim about the town ignoring the needs of the music students who were “all trying to fly out of town on Aug. 18.” I know for a fact that most of the music students were quite aware of the so called “lock-down” issue and made arrangements to leave town either before or after the bike race.
Believe it or not, these amazingly talented kids are totally connected and quite aware of what is happening around them. By the way, most of the students I know drove out of town, as they cannot afford the flights out of Aspen. The school informed them of the bike race issue.
Secondly, the people “trying to fly out” had been sent emails by United informing them that they could change their flights at no cost to them due to the bike race, should they wish to do so. Also, the buses were going to and from the airport while the roads were closed. As to those driving over Independence Pass, there were numerous signs on the other side of the pass, as well as on the Glenwood side, informing people of the dates and times of the race. If drivers cannot read, then that is not the fault of the town or those coordinating the bike race.
As for the “workers” who were affected, I cannot imagine that any worker was uninformed of this event. If the owners of monster homes did not give their gardeners, housekeepers, cooks, etc. the day off for this event, then I am sorry to hear that. It should have been a town holiday, so the workers could have joined in the festivities for a change.
Never have I been so excited to see a car-free town, where for once we could ride bikes or walk without the fear of being run over by cars going through red lights and stop signs. I have lost count of the number of cars I have seen run the red lights on Main Street on a regular basis all summer long. It is disturbing. But Monday and Tuesday were so wonderfully car/emission free. We could only imagine how spectacular it must have been to live here in the years before cars took over the town.
So get over it Robin, the bike race should be enjoyed and seen for what it is, a great opportunity to get around our beautiful town either on foot or on a bike. I will certainly be letting our elected officials know how much I loved the bike race.
Letter: Tortoise reformAugust 28, 2014 —
I’ve got it. We turn the old art museum into a tortoise sanctuary, rescue and rehab center. You’re welcome in advance.
Steven R. Williams
Letter: To shell with themAugust 28, 2014 —
To shell with them
Oh, those poor little God’s creatures! Please, they never had it so good. Made to wear an iPod thingy? They get free rent in downtown Aspen. Obamacare is paid for. Catered meals, and servants to look after them.
They could be living in a land-mine field in Angola. Or, simmering in a pot of curry.
I prefer to care and worry about maybe a little girl with cancer who won’t ever see her high school prom. Or, a Marine that lost his legs.
Anyways, I prefer Komodo dragon in my curry.
Aspen and Santa Fe, New Mexico
Letter: Beware DeFranciaAugust 28, 2014 —
DeFrancia has a personal stake in the lodging ordinance, given that he is proposing to redevelop the long abandoned Boomerang Lodge at Fourth Street and Hopkins Avenue. He recently lamented in the papers over recommendations of denial by both planning staff and the P&Z with his proposal to build a massive free-market condominium and lodging complex at the Boomerang. He has a vested interest in a lodging ordinance that grants developers exemptions from affordable-housing regulations and significant discounts from the fees that every other person applying for a building permit must pay.
Even more pernicious is a section of the new lodging regulations that codifies the right of lodge owners to convert their units into free-market condominiums as soon as 10 years after completion. That’s quite a deal for developers and lodge owners — they save millions because they do not have to pay full development fees or build a reasonable amount of affordable housing. And after 10 years can cash in by converting hotel rooms into privately owned condominiums.
In fact, the lodging ordinance should be decided by the voters. It is a significant departure from the land-use policies that were enacted in the early 1970s and remained fully intact until the mid-2000s. During that period, land-use policies honored the historic scale of Aspen’s neighborhoods and maintained a strong relationship with the environment. Building sizes were kept reasonable, open space was required to make streets more pedestrian-friendly, and people’s views to the mountains were protected.
All of that began to unravel when the City Council adopted infill policies in the first half of the 2000s. The results can be seen with oversized buildings like the art museum and the massive mixed-use structure being built by Nikos and Andy Hecht behind Boogie’s. The last City Council, under Mayor Mick Ireland, scrapped some provisions of the infill regulations but unfortunately could not stop some of the worst outcomes.
Now, three members of City Council have radically loosened regulations for lodging industry. The very fact that two of five council members voted against the change should be a signal that these regulations are not ready for prime time.
Letter: Climate change and the Senate raceAugust 27, 2014 —
Thank you for your election coverage of the important race between Sen. Mark Udall and Rep. Cory Gardner and especially for asking about climate change.
I appreciate that Gardner is concerned about economic impacts on people with low or fixed incomes. As a public school teacher, I share his commitment to the prosperity and health of the working class and people in poverty. Thus, I am sure Gardner would be happy to know there is an economic policy that can simultaneously protect our atmosphere and stimulate our economy. In fact, this policy will increase real income for the two-thirds of Americans who need it most. It’s called carbon fee and dividend, and it is a fair, revenue-neutral way to address emissions by taxing fossil fuels when they come out of the ground and giving all the money back to Americans.
People in the middle and bottom income brackets will actually be better off because their monthly dividend will be greater than the increase to their cost of living that results from pricing carbon. And if they make choices to be energy-efficient, even more of the money is theirs to spend or save. Gardner’s staff has already heard about this policy option when Citizens Climate Lobby volunteers visited Washington, D.C., in June. I hope that in future interviews and events, he will use this information to support a win-win-win solution for Americans, the economy and our environment.
As a climate voter, I will give my vote to whichever candidate can deliver on carbon fee and dividend in 2015.
Letter: Chumlee for prezAugust 27, 2014 —
Chumlee would make a better president. He’s smarter, and he doesn’t golf.
Santa Fe, New Mexico, and Aspen
Letter: Add tortoises to Aspen’s animal-abuse listAugust 27, 2014 —
Might I remind you that you have a long and steeped history of including animals in everything from work and entertainment to fundraising, art and sport? Stop the delusional banter that this particular animal engagement is out of touch with the town’s view of animals.
• Horse-drawn-carriage rides on asphalt.
• Doggie fashion shows for charity (including painted nails and canine clothes).
• Snow polo.
• Dog sledding.
• Forty-one years of rodeo love, including:
— Mutton busting (indoctrinating kids as to how to master an animal).
— Roping calves to the ground.
• Catch-and-release fishing.
• Alpacas for “petting” at the farmers market.
I implore you to check the hypocrisy at the door.
Letter: The time is now for SnowmassAugust 27, 2014 —
Dear Mayor Bill Boineau,
As an owner of a unit at the Viceroy Snowmass, and as a longtime visitor to Snowmass for annual summer and winter vacations, I’m writing to share my perspective on the current and future development in Base Village.
I have been following the events as best as possible, and my understanding is that Snowmass Acquisition Co. (Related Colorado) and the Snowmass Village Town Council met last week to discuss the future of Base Village and the upcoming expiration of the current vested rights held by Related. The amendment for the application is due Oct. 15.
I understand that Aspen Skiing Co., which withdrew its application to build a Limelight hotel, has re-signed an agreement with Related to construct the lodge and the Fanny Hill townhomes, which also were a part of the previous application. I believe it is critical that Related, the town and Skico all work together to resolve and move forward on the existing Base Village development. I was surprised that the application and discussion seemed to meet opposition from the town.
Again, I think it is critical to work together to get this piece in the heart of Snowmass Village moving forward again. A Limelight would bring additional people and business to the town. While it may compete with the occupancy of my own unit, I welcome the competition and an influx of new visitors to Snowmass Village. It makes us all stronger in the long run. I would like to see Related complete the Viceroy Hotel’s second building and also complete the existing buildings that are half-finished. The impression of the half-finished development is a very damaging appearance for Snowmass Village. I see this personally as a visitor each time I arrive; I hear it from other visitors wondering why the construction continues to be incomplete. The appearance is not appealing, and the long delay gives a sense of local problems.
I strongly believe a comprehensive and well-planned resolution would create a very positive energy and be good for all involved in Snowmass Village.
Letter: Tall talesAugust 27, 2014 —
Locals shouldn’t worry about the new 60-foot-tall buildings. They would only be the same height as the new museum with a 13-foot turtle on the roof.
Letter: Aspen squaredAugust 26, 2014 —
Never before have I read so much negative press on a building designed by a “world-class foreign architect.” I agree with all of the negative commentary! It is an ugly, offensive, obnoxious, square building that does not fit into our quaint mountain town.
The other day I drove by the beautiful Basalt Library, designed by Michael Hassig, of A4 Architects, based in Carbondale. The building is very attractive and artistic and fits perfectly into the landscape. Heidi Zuckerman Jacobson and her board needed the prestige of having an acclaimed international architect design their museum, and look what he came up with — a square, rusted-steel-looking birdcage! How hard is it to design a square building? Hassig, I am sure, would have created a design far more sensitive to preserving the historical feeling of Aspen.
My girlfriend wanted to go to the museum’s rooftop cafe Sunday morning after a class we took together because she wanted to take in the view of Aspen Mountain from that vantage point. After sitting at the table with the best view of the mountain, I immediately heard the video re-enacting the Black Dynamite blasts that happened on the day of the museum opening. Does the management really think that it is enjoyable to listen to machine-gun sounds and bomb blasts while trying to have a pleasant conversation with a friend? I was appalled by this affront of my senses once again. It was bad enough hearing it at the base of the mountain the day the dynamite was blasted the first time, but to have to listen to it over and over again while eating was more than I could endure. Wouldn’t elegant classical music or soft jazz create a more comfortable, appealing atmosphere?
My final suggestion is that Heidi and all the powers that be wear iPads on their heads and see how they like it! Where is their sensitivity and compassion? It is pretty sad what has happened here in Aspen. Thanks, Mick, and all who are responsible for this abomination!