Recycling center right where it belongs |

Recycling center right where it belongs

The Aspen City Council has received a lot of criticism lately, both in this space and in the letters to the editor. But when the council does the right thing, it’s worth recognizing and applauding.So it was with the recent decision on the new and improved recycling center next to the Aspen Skate Park. Simply, the council chose to keep a necessary but unsightly public amenity right where it’s been for some 15 years – but to give it a needed aesthetic and environmental facelift.There was a chorus of complaints about this decision, but by and large the critics were not-in-my-backyard activists, voicing any kind of complaint they could conjure to delay or derail the project. Wisely, the council stood its ground.Recycling centers are important public facilities, but generally speaking, they’re ugly. Aspen’s is no better than most; it’s an unpaved turnaround off Rio Grande Place with a bunch of steel bins for cardboard, bottles and cans, newspapers, magazines and other materials. It’s encircled by a chain-link fence but is visible from all sides and adjacent to a public park.It may not be an ideal location, but it’s probably the best possible spot in a high-priced, NIMBY-infested place like Aspen. It’s certainly better than the parking lot at the corner of Mill Street and Rio Grande Place, where the so-called Friends of the Rio Grande Park proposed moving it. Moreover, as Councilwoman Rachel Richards observed, the center has been in its current location for years and has “taken on a sense of permanence.”Were the city to relocate the center, it would only run into another vocal set of NIMBYs somewhere else.Instead of insisting that the city put the center someplace else, the neighbors should be thanking city officials for agreeing to spend an estimated $735,000 (roughly half of it provided by the developers of nearby Obermeyer Place) to improve the site, place the bins inside two L-shaped structures built from recycled materials and power the center’s low-level lighting with solar panels.Before voting to approve the project, Councilman Jack Johnson hit the nail on the head when he stated, “I don’t think the neighbors will ever be happy.”Sadly, the unhappy neighbors don’t seem to know when to give up and pipe down. They plan to circulate petitions and place the matter on the November ballot. This signature petition will be a good one to avoid.

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