Aspen Historical Society urges a plan to interpret region’s history
September 14, 2011
ASPEN – Developing a regional plan to tell the Roaring Fork Valley’s history won conceptual support from Pitkin County commissioners Tuesday, but a suggestion that the county foot the bill for hiring a consultant didn’t fare as well.
Georgia Hanson, president and CEO of the Aspen Historical Society, urged the county to hire a professional consultant to help devise a plan for interpreting the area’s history in a cohesive fashion, an expense she estimated at $50,000 to $100,000.
The idea sprang from a county request for the historical society’s help in coming up with information to place on interpretative signs intended for the old Maroon Creek Bridge. Built as a railroad trestle more than a century ago, the bridge then carried Highway 82 in and out of Aspen until it was taken out of service.
“The bridge that triggered this meeting is part of a much larger story,” Hanson said, outlining a vision for interpretive signs and other materials to convey that story – the valley’s broad history – from mining and skiing to railroads, ranching and more. The planning would encompass the Roaring Fork drainage and the end result could be a boon to local tourism, she suggested.
The historical society could help facilitate the effort, but doesn’t have the ability to take it on, Hanson said. She asked the county to develop a request for proposals in order to seek applications from qualified consultants.
“I think your vision is fabulous,” said Commissioner Rob Ittner, but he questioned how the county would fund such an endeavor.
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Commissioner Michael Owsley predicted that there would be little interest in financing a consultant, since there wasn’t even interest in spending money on the bridge signs when he proposed them.
“I’m not sure the rest of the commissioners can rise to that challenge,” he told Hanson.
Commissioners generally agreed that a broader group of counties, municipalities and other organizations should be involved if a consultant is to be hired.
“For everyone to buy into the program later, they need some skin in the game early on,” Commissioner Rachel Richards said. The county could perhaps provide matching funds or some seed money for the effort, she added.
“We do have limited funds and limited resources,” said Commissioner George Newman. “I see a part for the county to play in it, for sure.”
Hanson said the historical society plans to approach other local governments in the valley, as well.