Something stinks in Aspen’s alleyways |

Something stinks in Aspen’s alleyways

Janet Urquhart
Aspen Times Staff Writer

Aspen’s effort to control dust in its alleyways stinks – literally.

The Streets Department sprayed the alleyways Tuesday with a dust-control agent that is, well, somewhat odoriferous.

It’s nothing new. The city has been using the product, calcium lignosulfanate, for several years – ever since it quit applying magnesium chloride in the alleys to keep the dust down, said Jerry Nye, street superintendent.

Usually, however, the alleys are treated in March, and subsequent precipitation cuts the odor. A delay in receiving a shipment of the substance resulted in the late application this year.

“We haven’t really had any rain as yet to mellow the smell,” Nye said Wednesday.

Visitors to the Music Tent wrinkled their noses recently, as well. The odor was noticeable last weekend in the tent parking lot, which is also treated with the substance for dust. Maintenance of the lot is handled privately, Nye added.

The application is considered an environmentally and health-friendly one that is preferred by the city’s Environmental Health Department, said Jannette Whitcomb, environmental health specialist. Her office has fielded several calls from citizens about the stuff.

Calcium lignosulfanate is essentially tree sap, according to Nye. “Basically, it’s the juices and stuff after they compress plywood, and water,” he said.

Longtime local resident Sy Coleman paid a visit to Whitcomb’s office earlier this week to inquire about the source of the smell after he noticed it in the West End and at the Music Tent.

If the substance is environmentally benign, perhaps it’s worth the unpleasant odor, he conceded.

“Nevertheless,” Coleman said, “it stinks.”

[Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is]

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