We don’t have to accept this | AspenTimes.com

We don’t have to accept this

We would first like to thank everyone who has called offering help. It is good to see such a broad cross-section of community support.We would like to clear up some misleading statements from The Aspen Times. Friends of Marolt Park & Open Space is opposed to moving a two-lane highway a few hundred feet to “straight shot” through Marolt Park. At a projected cost of over $60 million for about one mile, CDOT’s Entrance to Aspen is one of the most expensive and unnecessary highway projects in the state. The proposed exchange of other inaccessible, distant “open space” gives Aspen nothing it can use.As for The Aspen Times article that the Friends want a longer tunnel, it must be recognized that the tunnel idea is in the first instance CDOT’s, put forth in order to create a “land bridge” over Highway 82 and thereby obscure the devastation that would be done to the Marolt in this process. We oppose CDOT’s plan and so we oppose its tunnel. If, however, it comes to pass, despite all efforts, that we are going to have a tunnel, of course we would want a longer tunnel than a shorter one.This project would change forever a beautiful and much appreciated entrance to Aspen. Moreover, a viable alternative exists in the present two lanes into town. There has been a reduction, not an increase, in the traffic here during a 10-year period of economic expansion throughout the country and high level of construction activity here locally. The S-curves do just what they were designed to do, calming traffic as it comes into Main Street. Some improvements might be made to smooth the transition into Main Street.Is a small reduction, if any, in traffic time in this stretch worth tens of millions of dollars and the loss of our open space for a massive Denver-scale “solution” with a tunnel entrance to town? The 2001 election last May said “no” to the straight shot. Three city councilmen and at least one county commissioner are telling us now that vote has no value. This obviously does not show a willingness to listen to and implement the vote of the people.We are all being subjected to classic “bait and switch” here, with the rail supporters being particularly torpedoed. They voted for rail across the Marolt in 1996 and against buses across the Marolt in 2001, yet the public officials referenced above are trying to rely on the 1996 vote to keep the potential of buses alive. It is not true that the only way to make rail possible is to realign the highway. We have long said that rail-only across the Marolt if necessary would be acceptable with appropriate environmental mitigation.Other resort areas and small towns would be happy to have our current entrance with its welcoming approach and comfortable pace. An example is Telluride, which is just regaining its entrance from CDOT.CDOT intends to immediately move onto our open space and start work despite the fact that they admit that there is no funding in the system for the next 20 years and despite the fact that there is an unresolved lawsuit challenging their very right to proceed. They talk about soil testing and berming. The community owns the Marolt and holds it in trust for the Aspen of tomorrow as well as the Aspen of today. What we would lose as opposed to what we might gain is enormous – and for all time. We have the right to expect, and should demand, integrity and civil behavior from all our elected officials. This inappropriate decision to give CDOT our open space despite public opinion and totally unresolved funding is not something we have to accept.Please come to the City Council at 5 p.m. on May 13 for public comment or just to show your support.Yasmine Depagter, Helen Palmer, Dennis Vaughn, Ed ZasackyFriends of Marolt Park & Open Space

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