West End is not a shortcut
The inability and lack of political will on the part of the city of Aspen to solve the Entrance to Aspen has resulted in the West End residential neighborhood being used as a highway bypass. The Aspen Music Festival and School has long used the West End as its overflow parking lot. At its root, it is not a question of who can use our public streets; it is a question of whether it is appropriate to use a residential neighborhood as a highway bypass or, for that matter, a parking lot.
I found the editorial in Friday’s Aspen Times to be both arrogant and, as intended I’m sure, overly sarcastic. I can recall a West End where working families resided in almost every home, where we did play childhood games in the streets and dogs would nap in the intersections without fear of being run down, the very activities mocked by the Aspen Times editorial.
This is certainly no longer the case in the West End, where Aspen’s most historic and beautiful residential neighborhood has been turned into a raceway every afternoon, before and after every concert at the Benedict Music Tent or Harris Hall, before and after any event at the Aspen Meadows or Paepcke Auditorium. There are numerous
children and pets who reside in this neighborhood and their safety is at risk because of drivers who are more concerned with how quickly they can enter or exit the neighborhood and reach their destination than they are about the safety of their fellow citizens and neighbors.
There is a lack of enforcement, even acknowledgment by the city engineer, and by local law enforcement of existing speed limits and the requirement and enforcement of the law that one actually stop at a stop sign. Residents are entitled to the enforcement of traffic laws that protect their safety and the safety of their children. Just because there are more second homes than in the past, it does not alleviate the need to protect those citizens who frequent or make the West End their home.
The West End is home to a very popular Triangle Park, the Early Learning Center and various child-care centers at the Yellow Brick School and Red Brick Center for the Arts ,which includes recreational programs for numerous children. Short of going to the schools, you would be hard-pressed to find a higher concentration of children than at these facilities and their adjoining playground facilities. To say that there are no people, full-time residents or children in the West End is patently false and misleading.
These are public streets engineered for residential use and were never intended to serve as a highway bypass for Main Street. No one is asking for a gated community. The residential streets should be available for public use for appropriate purposes. The appropriate speeds and traffic laws should be respected. The city of Aspen should undertake a serious effort to resolve the Entrance to Aspen so it solves both traffic congestion on Main Street and to reduce its ever-escalating impacts on the West End neighborhood.
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