Kronberg, Aspen ‘community activist,’ is out working for you
Toni Kronberg’s belly is full of butterflies.
The Elected Officials Transportation Committee meeting is set to begin in about half an hour, and Kronberg is planning to speak about an issue she feels strongly about. Kronberg is an old pro at this sort of thing, but still, she’s nervous.
“I was expecting Aspen Aerial to be an option, and it’s buried in the document,” she says. “I only have three minutes to speak, so I have to condense my message in three minutes.”
“Aspen Aerial” is a gondola-based solution to the traffic-choked quandary known as the Entrance to Aspen. Kronberg envisions a gondola between Aspen and Snowmass as the answer to the problem.
“The community would support a gondola,” she says. “I know they would.”
Kronberg is not a fan of light rail and, after the meeting, cannot believe officials want to spend nearly half a million dollars studying it (and buses) as a solution to the daily S-curves traffic jam.
“They’re going to spend $500,000 studying something they know won’t work?” she says after sitting through three hours of transportation-speak featuring members of the Aspen City Council, the Pitkin County Board of Commissioners and the Snowmass Village Town Council and their staffs. “It’s crazy.”
Kronberg is a regular at these sorts of meetings. She often addresses City Council members, county commissioners and other elected officials, providing updates on what other boards are doing and how her pet issues are coming along.
“What I do in my role is I go in front of elected officials with an idea,” Kronberg says. “If they’re not supportive, I reach out to the community and have them support a petition.”
Kronberg sees herself as a community activist. While she has jobs around town that pay her bills, no one pays her to attend these meetings, which can sometimes run on the dull side. She says she likes to take on “a community value” — perhaps quality of life or preserving small-town character or something to do with families or recreation — and run with it.
“No one else is willing to do that,” Kronberg says. “Everyone is busy raising families.”
Kronberg, who is single, says she likes seeing ideas she espouses come to fruition.
“I always wanted to make a difference in the world,” she says.
Kronberg grew up in New Jersey and learned valuable life lessons early because her family ran a chain of four funeral homes.
“I realized how fragile life is and how important it is to extend to your loved ones your good feelings,” she says.
Her first lobbying effort took place at her Catholic High School, where she not only pushed for a Valentine’s Day dance but also was able to successfully change the uniform colors from grayish-brown to a choice between pink, blue, green or yellow, Kronberg says.
She moved to Aspen from New Jersey 42 years ago to learn to ski. Her first Aspen lobbying effort was for a new community swimming pool in 1978, she says. Asked to name her most triumphant Aspen-area lobbying efforts, Kronberg cites the free bus service between Aspen and Snowmass and helping get the Aspen Recreation Center built.
Currently, she’s particularly keen on the gondola-Entrance to Aspen idea and expanding the size of the boarding area at the Aspen-Pitkin County Airport.
Kronberg ran for City Council about seven years ago and lost. Now she says she likes her role as lobbyist better and has no plans to run for office again.
“If I have a good idea, I’m not going to give up on it,” Kronberg says. “Some of (the area’s elected officials) probably think I’m a pain in the ass.”
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