Don’t look back |

Don’t look back

As a one-time resident of your fair city, it’s easy to understand why the town and its inhabitants want the place squeaky clean.

Years ago in Colorado, the Rockies had a monopoly on the best air anyone had the good fortune to suck in. Early trail blazers were able to see for miles in any direction; the snow that covered the landscape stayed white and pure all season long.

Obviously it would be a crime to dilute this Utopian setting. But in today’s world, as they say, “doo-doo happens.”

Your paper brought to my attention many good points why it is imperative its citizens and visitors alike should at least try to keep Aspen’s mountain air as pure as it once was, and, of course, its streets as free of pollutants as the “green” people insist it ought to be.

Good health is the primary reason why many of us Easterners journeyed west, choosing Aspen as our new home. Anyhow, regarding your essay, “Down The Drain,” published in the April 20 issue of The Times: Kudos to your reporters; I’m sure it took bags of time and research to sift through it all.

On the other hand, I, for one, cannot quite grasp of what environmentalists, and your paper, are trying to get across when town fathers continually grumble about the continuous carbon monoxide high your fair city seems to enjoy time and time again.

I can appreciate what folks are getting at when they refer to the traffic on Main Street as one of the major sources responsible for degrading Aspen’s environment. Undermining global ecosystems with noxious carbon particulates precludes any hazard man has yet bestowed upon himself in the name of progress.

On the other hand, isn’t it a contradiction in terms when boutiques in town, and especially the Aspen Skiing Co. and the Chamber of Commerce, cry out for the need of added PR plus expensive advertising on an accelerated schedule and, in addition, utilizing a worldwide distribution network?

Obviously, all that heartwarming text brought to you in full color is a “slam dunk” to increase tourist visits and, in turn, escalate those unhealthy carcinogens that are already terrifying the city.

Could it be the city is finally submitting to join the ranks of many of America’s “real cities,” marching side by side with the problems these towns are struggling with today?

“The battle against humanity’s dirt and toxic waste and the degradation of the environment.” So what’s your point? Are you really going to rescue Mother Earth from the crapper, or are Aspen’s leaders predisposed in support of that time-honored bottom line, encouraging foreign tourism and investment dollars? If that’s the town’s truculent attitude, then your “crapper” article has fallen on deaf ears.

In another matter, town folks seem constantly at odds with the Department of Transportation and its ongoing Route 82 highway improvement debacle. Perhaps it’s because of the unenthusiastic attitudes most folks have about progress?

How are Aspen’s merchants expected to survive if access to the town is difficult, if not impossible, to navigate, and why is there only a single ingress to the heart of Aspen?

The last time I looked at the street map it displayed at least three other roads that were also capable of conveying visitors to the inner city. These roads could possibly take some of the pressure off Main Street, even if they’re only used for passenger cars or public transportation.

Excuse the “armchair quarterbacking.” I’m sure there are bazillions of excuses why this suggestion would never fly. Why am I not surprised?

Tell me, how do the bean counters expect to reduce Aspen’s financial woes if it takes something resembling a slow boat to China for shoppers and the fun lovers you’ve enticed with those lively ads to get into town?

Aspen voters nixed all public transportation with the exception of buses, one of the nation’s biggest polluters. This is typical “modus operandi” for a city you are resolute in protecting against bad air.

SUVs, fancy gas guzzlers, trucks and studded snow tires. Really: Why should any of the world’s biggest spenders, thrill seekers and whatever bother going to Aspen if they can’t use all of that cool stuff to get around in town?

Isn’t that all part of the hype, the outdoorsy snow scene? The hip image Aspen is trying to sell to drive the city back into the slack? The Skico is trying hard to rekindle those embers of the once fabulous Aspen marques.

Oh, the fame and the fortunes made, and the skiing supremacy it once held high court over. Seriously, what or who is going to guide you people in the future? Your leaders are weak, probably shouldn’t even occupy the office the they now sit on.

Modernize! Some talk about it a lot but, really, nobody forces the issue, and probably is afraid too. Basically your town is built on bygone days, days most of Aspen’s NIMBY’s wish would linger just awhile longer.

Aspen’s vulnerability is its own people. The “haves and have nots” chasing their tails until a higher authority kicks in and cleans things up for them.

Get real people. Stop trying to save this dirty old world. Build your town, but build it as a city, not as a rich man’s private playground or the fading memories of a bygone past. Leave Aspen to become a reality. Allow it to grow, to be an exciting destination the entire world can love and enjoy.

Never look back, there’s nothing there that can help you.

Hubert Shera

Miller Place, N.Y.

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