New business group tackles Aspen’s woes | AspenTimes.com

New business group tackles Aspen’s woes

Allyn Harvey

Mark Fox/The Aspen Times

Some of Aspen’s most established entrepreneurs, landlords, managers and proprietors have formed a new organization to represent the business community’s interests in the community at large.

The Aspen Business Improvement League ” which includes representatives from the Aspen Skiing Co., Community Banks, Main Street Bakery, Sport Obermeyer, and Morris and Fyrwald Real Estate, among others ” announced itself to the world last week at a press conference in front of Aspen Sports on the Cooper Avenue mall.

Founding members Bill Dinsmoor, Mark Goodman, Stan Hajenga, Howie Mallory, David Perry, Tim Semrau, Dwayne Romero and John Starr were all present in the mall, sporting T-shirts that read, “It’s the traffic stupid.”

Ernie Fyrwald said one of the first public actions of the group will be to acquire 150 or so bicycles for locals and visitors to use around town. The idea behind the bicycle program, which is expected to go into effect next spring, is to give people an alternative to driving between destinations in town.

“The biggest issue facing the community is traffic,” Fyrwald said. “It affects our livelihoods, and it affects the long-term economy, not to mention its effects on the environment.”

The community-bicycle program is a high-profile way for the new group to step into the debate about traffic, public transit and the Entrance to Aspen. The city of Aspen is expected to put the issue front and center in the coming months.

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Fyrwald said the group has no stance on the Entrance to Aspen. Rather, the men want to help find solutions to the gridlock that grips town for much of each day.

But the league is far from a one-trick pony, and transportation is far from its only concern. Dinsmoor, Fyrwald and other members stressed that they are forming what they expect to be a permanent part of Aspen’s business and political landscape. Eventually, they hope to form a business improvement district that taxes members and spends the money working on marketing and other issues that affect the business community.

The group’s announcement comes about a year after the city government and business leaders began discussing creation of such an improvement district.

Dinsmoor said that the function of the Aspen Business Improvement League, and the business improvement district, if it is formed, is decidedly different than the Aspen Chamber Resort Association’s function, which is a voluntary organization that provides members with discounts and networking opportunities. Business improvement districts (and the new business improvement league) work on specific issues that members decide are important.

Romero said the league’s formation will give the business community another way to join the debate on important issues. Mallory said the new group’s real intent is to look at issues with a long-term perspective.

Dinsmoor said that he and other members will recruit heavily in Aspen’s business community in order to drum up support in advance of an Aug. 30 membership meeting at the Mountain Chalet Lodge.

Allyn Harvey’s e-mail address is aharvey@aspentimes.com

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