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Bowlski’s does not abide

Dear Craig Spivey (owner of Bowlski’s), you purchased a viable business and ran it into the ground. Before you, Jonathon was rocking the kitchen with lamb chops and steaks. You replaced him with fried chicken, and it failed.

The kitchen has not been open consistently for many years. Before you, there was a bar business with Lisa Valley. Customers came in every day for happy hour, including the weekends. Your bar business has failed.

There is one league running on Mondays. They have been able to bowl less than six times since the fall due to maintenance issues. What does COVID-19 have to do with 11 nonworking lanes, no kitchen, lacking bar business, bathroom sinks that don’t work and bathroom doors that don’t lock?

You’ve been closed since Monday, Jan. 3, due to a flood. If “the different demographic” is the teenagers that are there on Saturday nights, they cannot support you. They bring their own liquor! The paper said you live in the Roaring Fork Valley (which I don’t believe). Please come into your business and support your forever-revolving employees.

Susanne Shimp


Amateur e-bike hour on Maroon Creek Road

And it has come to this. In a nutshell, an influx of e-bikes on Maroon Creek Road has created a safety issue that never existed before e-bikes. Now Pitkin County seeks to alleviate the issue by punishing those who neither created the problem nor have ever been the root of the problem.

If the county wants to address the issue, please direct the solution to those who created it. Not the rest of us. The bottom line is that those who pedal bicycles without the assistance of electric motors have no need for a lesson in cycling etiquette. We know very well that a bicycle has little or no chance against a 3,500-pound car, no less a bus.

I don’t mean to point the proverbial finger at all e-bike riders, because many of them understand the risks of cycling. That being said, the vast number of tourists driving, not pedaling, their e-bikes up Maroon Creek Road, or any road in the county for that matter have rarely, if ever, even ridden a bike, especially in mountainous terrain.

In short, if the county seeks a solution, then please direct that solution towards those who created its need, not towards those of us who have not.

Jamie Klein


Editor’s note: At Wednesday’s meeting of Pitkin County commissioners, the board indicated it is leaning toward having visitors who rent bikes and e-bikes to pay a fee and reserve a spot to ride to the Maroon Bells. Local residents would be excluded from the policy under consideration.

About Aspen’s labor pains

A major problem with economics occurs when there are several correct answers. The Elizabeth Milias column of Jan. 16 highlights the issue (“The ‘L’ word,” commentary, The Aspen Times).

Aspen is in the “post-growth stage” because the population did not increase. Milias is correct in regard to the data. However, the comment begs the question: Was the absence of growth caused by the lack of housing, or was the lack of growth caused because people did not want to move to Aspen?

The increase in housing prices answers the question. Prices rose to limit growth.

The absence of growth leads to a second question: Can Aspen’s economy survive at the current population level? The answer to the question is no.

There are over 1,000 job openings in Aspen. Aspen needs to attract workers from down valley. However, those living there will not come without large financial incentives. As a result, cooks, dishwashers, hotel workers, etc. are being paid at rates that are well above the national and state averages. Businesses that cannot afford to pay the higher salaries are closing, and the remaining restaurants must charge much higher prices.

The lack of relatively close housing even affects Aspen Skiing Co. The individuals needed to run the mountains often find better alternatives in Wyoming, Utah and Montana.

Perhaps Mark Hunt has the solution. Tear down more of the buildings housing restaurants and stores. The demand for labor declines as restaurants and stores close, bringing the market back toward equilibrium.

This is the outcome that will occur if Milias’ proposal is followed. She writes “Aspen is generations ahead of other mountain resort communities” in adjusting to current conditions. She is correct if she means Aspen only wants to be a playground for billionaires. Whether Skico can get the people it needs is an open question. Who cares?

Philip Verleger


In memoriam

History was rich here, but little survives

Each day another carpetbagger arrives

The Onion is empty; Jimmy’s forced to close

Humility is dead; entitlement thumbs its nose

Tranquility fled to some faraway place

Traffic congestion is the town’s big disgrace

Mom and Pop stores struggle to make it

Landlord greed just wants to take it

No one can find a place to live

Unless they’ve got a fortune to give

Workers must sleep in a distant county

Hit and run kids have dad pay the bounty

There’s no more fun at the Crystal Palace

Just naked steel and mounting malice

The plaza has a statue of Friedl Pfeifer

But he’s only known if you’re a local lifer

And who were Walter and Darcy and Fred?

Who cares? Who cares? They’re forgotten and dead

The Isis is in crisis; the gas stations went away

But we got a new chain store — hooray, hooray

Dinner in town is $500 for two (if you’re smart)

It comes with COVID, seated two feet apart

But the snow is the best in 43 years

Though goggles ice up with memory’s tears

Oh, what the hell, summer’s even worse

Success is irony dressed up as a curse

Welcome to the town of last goodbyes

Where history is rich, but character dies

I’m lucky to have arrived in Aspen in ‘55

And be young enough my memories survive

Of dirt streets, Tom’s Market, and Sinclair gas

No stoplights, no curbs, an unpaved Independence Pass

Of Küster and Guido and Bil with one “L”

The Times once a week the kids scurried to sell

What’ll be next to pack up and go?

Farewell, dear Aspen, we loved you so

Greg Lewis

Snowmass Village

Castle Creek will bear brunt of new Maroon Creek regs

Dear County Commissioners:

As a Castle Creek Valley resident and avid road biker, I am horrified by the possible unintended consequences of your proposed permit and reservation system for Maroon Creek bikers.

I think we all can agree that the use (and especially misuse) of e-bikes needs to be addressed, but I question if fees and reservations will resolve the issue. All that will happen if/when you limit bikers on Maroon Creek is that they’ll head to Castle Creek where those same fees and reservations are not required.

At least on Maroon Creek, vehicles are limited to buses driven by trained drivers. On Castle Creek there is heavy traffic, from both residential and construction vehicles as well as numerous cars heading to some of the most popular hiking and tourist areas (Ashcroft, Pine Creek Cookhouse, Little Annie’s and Midnight Mine). Given the numerous blind curves on the road, drawing more bikers to this road is a nightmare waiting to happen.

How can we educate e-bikers to make all our roads safer? Let’s not lighten the load on one road only to cause a disastrous situation on another.

Heidi Semrau


Aspen City Hall devoid of life

After numerous attempts to contact someone by phone and not getting any response, I decided to pay a visit to our new Taj Mahal.

Upon entering this large space, there is a person on the left and one on the right behind glass; moving up a very large curved staircase to the second floor, again, one person on the left and one on the right behind glass.

This building has no vibe or life, kinda like a funeral home. Finding the right person to speak to, I asked why Mr. So-and-So did not return any phone calls. I didn’t get a good response but was given the number of another worker.

As I was leaving I looked around and wondered where all the workers were; I was told they were working remotely. Can’t believe they are still using COVID-19 as an excuse while everyone else in this town in every business is working their butts off side by side! I wonder if our city leaders are somewhere up in the penthouse looking down on this well-oiled machine achieving nothing. Equals wasted money!

Gary Moore


Aspen’s Semple question

In her column “The ‘L’ word” (Aspen Times, Jan. 16), Elizabeth Milias raises the existential question to which so many have claimed to either know or be the answer: What is a local?

What, indeed?

Is it someone old enough to have seen sheep on Main Street, and all the other stuff that Tony Vagneur and Tim Willoughby write about?

Someone around during Aspen’s renaissance as a ski mecca and resort town? Or its flowering as a liberal’s fantasyland (shall we call it “Paepke World”?) with an Ideas Festival attracting elite cognoscenti like bees to honey?

Someone connected to the influx of Chicago money and politics?

Someone who saw it raining fire in the sky and thought that Gonzo journalism and messy vitality would change the world? Or that cultish environmentalism could save that world?

Someone with a frothing-at-the-mouth hatred of all-things-Trump and of vehicles bearing Texas and Florida license plates?

Someone with “the Pin” and a resentment of “unwashed” Ikon passholders?

Who knows? And as Milias asks, who makes the call?

One might think that the person designated by this newspaper as “Mr. Aspen” would exhibit a few of the defining characteristics. And, behold, this person does climb mountains and has helped extract hapless fellow mountaineers, living and dead, from surrounding peaks. Sounds pretty “Aspen,” right?

Moreover, for seven years, he produced the closest thing to Gonzo journalism that this town has seen in decades, with a wit that quickly makes fools feel their foolishness, and has drawn 700,000 readers to his blog “The Aspen Beat.” But no local he, apparently! As one self-credentialed “local” columnist has thundered, Glenn Beaton is “inherently un-Aspen” and “dastardly” to boot.

Oh, dear. I guess Lo Semple makes the call, together with fellow also-fans in the ”Best Columnist” competition, also dominated by Mr. Beaton, even though he hasn’t been published by an Aspen newspaper for two years.

The mystery endures — what is a local?

Oh, dear. I guess Lo Semple makes the call.

Chad Klinger

Snowmass Village


Something fishy in Woody Creek

For those of you following the Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority board meetings, the following comments were cut from the YouTube version of the Jan. 5 meeting posted on APCHA website from Jan. 5-22.

“As long as the vested owners get what they got into it, it’s a fair deal. Otherwise, we have not been subsidized an iota — yet — so there is a good argument for us going free market.” — Gus Filiss, Woody Creek

In response to proposed additional cuts* to already extremely restricted sales prices, according to findings of APCHA-hired inspector for the 36 Woody Creek homes APCHA plans to purchase and replace: “At the meeting on Monday (Woody Creek Metro District board of directors Jan. 3 meeting ) it was said (by APCHA staff) that only in the very rare instance of willful neglect – ‘which is very rare’ – that is what was said in the meeting. It was nothing like what was included in the pilot project.”

“I don’t understand why the most struggling low-wage earner neighbors of ours would be nailed for an inspection and whatever it finds at time of sale, when APCHA is about to replace their home. That seems to be placing the burden of making the home affordable for the next owner on the wrong shoulders.” — Peg O’Brien, Woody Creek

* Additional home-value cuts (on already extremely restricted price) are already occurring here, severely impacting the most vulnerable homeowners and their families.

Peg O’Brien

Woody Creek

From the Bells to the ballot box

I have ridden my human-powered bike to the Maroon Bells two to three times per week for the last 19 years. It is one of the great pleasures of living here. If my freedom to continue is impaired in any way to accommodate tourists on e-bikes, I will campaign vigorously against any county commissioner who supports the rule.

Tom Bernard


Buses driving woes on Maroon Creek Road

In reading some of the proposed solutions for the Maroon Bells Road to accommodate bikers and buses, I think the Pitkin County commissioners and the U.S. Forest Service have it backwards.

We should focus more on promoting more bikers (there are also many walkers, rollerbladers and cross-country skiers on wheeled skis) and limit the number of buses. There are so many reasons to restrict the schedules of the buses to make it so all the other users get to enjoy the road without the fear of large buses coming at random times, not to mention the carbon emissions being spewed out from the buses.

If the overall intent is to offer a bus ride to promote tourism, I seriously doubt someone would not come to Aspen if they couldn’t get on a bus to the Bells right away, so restricting that service would either get them on a bike, which would be great, or work with a limited bus schedule that is a reservation system and not have a reservation system for the bikers.

From a business standpoint it would make more sense to not subsidize a bus service and allow the bike shops to rent bikes and generate revenue for the shops and sales tax for the city. Not to mention how much healthier it is for all of us to either be on a bike or walk.

Another idea is something they do in many European cities and in some cases farmers markets, first Friday in Carbondale and other venues where they actually close the road to vehicular traffic or severely restrict it one day a week. Maybe on Sundays it’s open only too bikers, families with baby strollers, walkers, rollerbladers, skate boarders, dog walkers, and basically treat it as a park for that one day a week.

Time to change the focus from buses to all the others!

Ernie Fyrwald