25-50-100 Years Ago
City government in Aspen was a loosely defined thing in some ways, but the city council did take care of public needs in others.The fountain ordered by the city council for the use of the public has arrived and the work of putting it in place will begin today. The site selected for the fountain is in front of the Wheeler Opera House on Hyman Avenue.But occasionally the council had to be prodded by public outcry and articles in the paper about perceived problems with the citys infrastructure.The sidewalks of Aspen are becoming in really a dangerous condition and so are some of the street crossings and it is the opinion of many that the city council should take steps at once to remedy the evil. It would not be amiss for the council to take such steps as necessary to collect the poll tax and put a few men at work hammering down nails and putting in new boards where necessary and charge the expense to the owners of the property where such repairs are made.The paper also sent representatives along when the county commissioners went on a field trip to check the status of the road up Independence Pass, which was then named the Roaring Fork Road and was in the early stages of improvements so automobiles could drive on it.The road is in as good a shape as any mountain road can be kept … Between bridges Nos. 1 and 2 the roadbed was so low as to be flooded at any time there was an increased flow in the river … for a distance of 150 feet the cliff has been blasted away and the roadbed raised at least four feet above the present high water … Road Overseer Jack Greener and his assistants are now engaged in repairing bridges No. 3 and 4 and repairing the road as far as the [Lincoln Gulch] junction. J.R. Williams and associates are repairing the road and bridges between the junction and Independence, when mining supplies will be taken into that old time camp and operations resumed on a large scale.Besides keeping an eye on the government, the paper ran deep columns every week about the doings of the people of Aspen and the surrounding area. Included in these brief items were reports about names still familiar to local residents.Jim and Lew Vagneur of Woody [Creek] spent yesterday in the city buying supplies of all kinds for the home and ranch and left last evening for their ranch.Jerry Gerbaz, the prosperous Woody Creek rancher, was a business caller in the city yesterday and spent a very busy day disposing of farm products and buying provisions for the home and ranch. He left last evening for his ranch.W.H. Tagert left last evening for Denver to attend the [National] Democratic Convention [an event that would not be repeated for a century].(Microfilm of The Aspen Times 1904-1909 is missing from the Colorado Historical Societys archives. These 1908 excerpts are from The Aspen Democrat.)
As Colorados Front Range counties grew in population, developers and legislators came up with the controversial practice of building transmountain diversion tunnels to bring water from the Western Slope under the Continental Divide. One such, the Frying Pan-Arkansas Project, was being considered in Congress, and resisted by Western Slope interests.A conditional decree by the District Court in Glenwood Springs should prove another obstacle in the attempt of Eastern Slope residents to push the Frying Pan-Arkansas bill through Congress. The decree, issued June 20, reserves water from the Frying Pan and the Crystal rivers to the Colorado River Water District for two multiple use projects. [The projects include] the Basalt Project … a reservoir to be built at Ruedi [and] the West Divide Project on the Crystal River [with dams planned] at Placita [and] near Redstone.The Music Associates of Aspen declined to open up their venues to a jazz concert, when asked to do so by the Aspen Chamber of Commerce. The MAA controlled access to both the Amphitheater, now known as the Music Tent, and the Wheeler Opera House.The MAA is opposed to, and will not subrent the Amphitheater for, a jazz concert, but will permit some other type of commercial spectacle there, directors of the Chamber of Commerce learned this week. This stand, taken by the trustees and officers of the MAA, followed a request by the chamber directors to use the tent for a money raising event. In their reply, the MAA officials said that a jazz concert … would be associated with their festival and would diminish its prestige.Editor Bil Dunaway, however, was not satisfied with merely reporting the facts, and wrote an editorial blasting the MAA for its position.There is no denying that the Aspen Music Festival does enjoy a great renown in the field of classical music. But Aspen as a resort is more than one festival. The tourists who come here turn to many things for entertainment, and one or more jazz concerts might induce them to prolong their visits … Jazz is a music form which is now cultivated and respected throughout the world [and festival officials, in] saying that jazz in the Amphitheater would diminish the festivals reputation, they merely demonstrate their own intolerance. These pontiffs should remember that Aspen, which helps support their organization, is greater than one festival, one music school, one ski race or any one institution.
The Aspen Valley Hospital District, in financial trouble and with its budget running budget running in the red, asked voters for a property tax increase.If approved by district voters, the new levy will be added to the existing tax, imposed in 1977 to repay the $3.5 million in bonds needed to build the new hospital [on Castle Creek Road]. Before the hospital district was formed to build the new hospital in 1976, the [former] facility [on a hill above the confluence of Hunter Creek and the Roaring Fork River, site of the historic Citizens Hospital] was owned by the county, which imposed a three-mill levy for its operations. According to Hospital Administrator Glenn Scott, the hospital lost $270,000 in 1982 and is expected to lose another $260,000 this year despite stringent cost cutting efforts.After eight months of bickering with City Hall, there still was no resolution to the fight over radio station KSPNs new satellite dish antenna, leaving the newspaper and residents wondering how it could be so complicated.Not hard, government officials say, when a broadcasting company installs a dish in a historic district, in the city right of way, without the approval of the three groups which should have reviewed it. The dish in question was installed near the corner of Main and Third by Recreation Broadcasting, owners of KSPN … in the city right of way last December. During the many sessions at which the … dish was discussed it was agreed by the various city officials that it should not have been installed in a historic district … on city property without approval from the city council, HPC [Historic Planning Commission] and the PZ commission.
compiled by John Colson
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