Clarifying the numbers
Dear Editor:A while back, Leadership Aspen asked candidates for office to sign a civility agreement to raise the level of discussion during elections. It included a pledge to be truthful in your statements. Such a pledge would seem unnecessary, but perhaps it would have given mayoral candidate Bert Myrin reason to pause before deliberately spreading false information in his recent letter to the editor.Mr. Myrin stated that Burlingame will “add 1,000 new people to the worker pool in Aspen.” Let’s be honest, Bert, Burlingame will have 97 residences in the first phase and 236 residences in total. Even if you assumed two working adults in each one-bedroom unit, the number of potential workers would be 194 in the first phase and 472 workers when all three phases are completed. Perhaps Bert figured that the kids in the larger family-style residences would join the work force, instead of going to school.Healthy Mountain Communities just released an updated travel patterns study of the Roaring Fork Valley. It revealed that the number of workers who work in Aspen and who reside in Aspen had dropped by 7 1/2 percent, an estimated 359 people. This drop in workers who both live and work in Aspen occurred during a time of overall job loss, when one would have hoped to see the percentage of resident workers rise.Bottom line, Burlingame phase one will provide housing opportunities for about 55 percent of the locally housed workers that we lost during the past six years. Losing that many local workers (and the contributions that they make to local businesses and our community character) may not bother Mr. Myrin, but this trend should be of concern for those who believe in a balanced community and sustainability.The cost of importing our work force (hardly a substitute for a permanent year-round local working population) rises every year. We are paying for bus service to towns 75 miles away, effectively supporting free-market sprawl in Garfield County. Housing prices throughout the valley, a safety valve for our work force needs in the past, have risen dramatically with the demand for retirement and/or second homes, pushing midvalley housing prices beyond the reach of many workers.The new Glenwood Meadows, (under construction across from Kmart) includes 400,000 square feet of commercial and a staffing need for over 1,500 employees. Workers commuting 10 to 15 hours weekly to Aspen will find good jobs closer to home. Depending on an imported work force is as short-sighted as depending on foreign oil.Aspen has a one-time opportunity with Burlingame Village. Our contracts limit free-market development on the Bar/X Ranch to a quarter of what it could be under county zoning, protects 80 acres of that ranch with conservation easements, and gives our community a housing site for current and future needs. This new site allows the city to turn 110 acres of lands bought with housing funds into open space.Please vote “yes” on May 3 on the Bar/X Ranch Annexation.Rachel E. RichardsAspen
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