I love poker. All right, maybe I don't love it. Otherwise I would actually play it now and then. Instead, I love the idea of poker. If you get lucky and end up with a couple of great cards or you are savant enough to be able to count cards as they are dealt and played, you can bluff and basically bully yourself into great fortune. Congratulations, Snowmass Village Town Council! In this free bus "negotiation" with Aspen and Pitkin County, they are holding "Go Fish" hands, and they know it.
Don't feel bad about calling their bluff and forcing them to play the crap they hold, either. Surely your memories aren't so short that you've forgotten how they bamboozled you the last time you played with them. Remember two words: Dro and Ste. That was the game where they convinced you that Snowmass Village was the town that would benefit most from the purchase of that dry chunk of elk-infested sage forest that divides Owl Creek and Brush Creek roads.
They bluffed, and we coughed up twice to pay for it; once as Snowmass Village residents and the other as Pitkin County residents. They acted as if the deal wouldn't get done if we didn't kick in the extra money needed to buy it. We now know that it was top priority for Pitkin County to get their hands on that property, and they would have paid anything to get it all by themselves. Sure it ended up being a popular trail that many of us Village people enjoy, but don't kid yourself, I ride it often enough to observe that Aspen people outnumber us 3-to-1 on it.
Let bygones be bygones, though. We can't get the millions we lost on that deal back, or can we? Well, maybe not in one big chunk in the form of a check, but we might be able to whittle and chip away at it over time. And, I believe, that is exactly what the Town Council started doing last week in "negotiating" the year-round free Roaring Fork Transportation Authority bus service between Snowmass and Aspen.
It's obvious. I mean, when you put forth the argument that Snowmass shouldn't foot the bill for the bus service because "the free bus just takes people away from Snowmass and into Aspen," you know something is up. Everybody knows the buses take people both ways. Besides Aspen is an attraction for Snowmass and might be the primary reason people come and stay here in the summer. By the same reasoning, you could say that we should get rid of the chairlifts because they only take visitors up the mountain and away from our shops. But, you know, you have to say something at the meeting to burn up time before you drop the hammer.
What everyone in the room knows is that politicians just say stuff so the papers have something to write down and, getting back to poker, you can't just throw down your hand and call the others on theirs until the pot is big enough.
In this game last week, it wasn't so much that we held the great hand in the game. It was that Aspen and Pitkin County were holding jokers and not much else. You see, they have tons invested in their "green" images. They have put a lot of time, energy and money into convincing the world that they are saving it through buses and reusable grocery bags. It's irrelevant whether the programs are working or not. It's their identity now, and they have to protect it.
Do you see what our Town Council saw now? That's right. There is zero chance that Aspen and Pitkin County are going to not have free bus service to Snowmass Village year-round. They have way too much riding on it, so to speak. Snowmass Village might not be the main attraction to Aspen, but there is no denying that we exist and some visitors will want to come out here and they will notice if there isn't a free bus to bring them here. Think of the bad press if this ultra-environmentally friendly amenity died at the hands of Aspen. Why do you think officials from there were so indignant at Snowmass' refusal to pony up?
Good for the Town Council in playing the strong hand here and not backing down. Keep it up - for a change.
Roger Marolt now has hope that Town Council will recognize that it holds all the good cards when it comes to revamping Base Village, too. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.