Fighting the last war
The Aspen Area Community Plan (AACP) is an important document that will serve as our town’s regulatory pole star. If properly written, it will guide us into a brighter future marked by healthy living and controlled prosperity.
Sadly, like our military, our local politicians seem to be completely out of touch with the way the world has changed. Every student of military history understands the axiom that generals always seem to be “preparing for the last war.” After World War II, we were experts on tank warfare but ill-prepared for the jungles of Vietnam. After Vietnam, we were ready for jungle warfare, but we didn’t have much of a clue about how to deal with terrorism and house to house combat with radicals and insurgents. Similarly, our local politicians seem to be driving us into the future by focusing on the rear-view mirror.
Although there are many challenges facing Aspen as we move forward, our drop in economic vitality needs to be addressed. Have you noticed that there have been days recently, where if a torpedo were fired down Hyman Avenue, that it wouldn’t have hit anybody? It’s not a surprise that the national and local economies have undermined Aspen’s job base. We are at a critical moment where we even have vacancies and foreclosures in our employee housing units! However, the AACP continues to focus on heavy employee-housing mitigation fees for developers, newly constructed restaurants and the like.
It’s curious to me at a time when we desperately need job creation – that our politicians design policies to discourage it. By golly, we are going to strangle those darn developers, even if we choke ourselves in the process. As a community, don’t we have a moral obligation to sustain the economy to a point where there are enough jobs for existing employee housing residents to continue to live here and pay their bills? By definition, doesn’t an employee require a job?
Every one of us, including myself, loves Aspen for its small-town charm and character. However, I suspect Aspen wasn’t all that much fun during the Great Depression’s “quiet years.” Ghost towns are interesting for a few hours, but most of us probably wouldn’t want to live in one. Let’s encourage thoughtful, controlled growth and economic vitality with new and innovative policies. Our local representatives, although well intentioned, are still fighting the last war.
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