Yikes! The future looks crowded | AspenTimes.com

Yikes! The future looks crowded


That’s about all we can say about the fact that there are 6,650 homes between Glenwood Springs and Aspen just waiting to be built. They are all approved, and with a few exceptions the only thing that needs to happen before they’re built is for a developer to get a building permit. The opportunity for government review and public comment has long since passed.

Factor in the growth that state demographers have projected between Glenwood Springs and Rifle, and our future becomes even more crowded.

Population growth projected for this region over the next 25 years will, even by cautious estimates, bring a staggering number of people into Garfield, Pitkin and Eagle counties. Garfield County’s population is expected to grow from approximately 50,000 today to somewhere between 97,000 and 150,000 by 2030. Pitkin and Eagle counties also are projected to grow considerably during the next 25 years.

It’s not hard to imagine how different this place will feel once all those people are living here. Nor is it difficult to imagine all the changes those new souls living and working here will bring to our mountain communities.

New schools will be necessary to educate thousands of children who will be growing up in the Roaring Fork Valley. Transit services will need to be expanded. (Area officials may soon regret killing the idea of a train from Glenwood to Aspen for local commuters and tourists.) Law enforcement and fire protection services will need beefing up. New parks, athletic fields and other recreation programs will be in high demand. Like it or not, government services will grow considerably in the coming years.

If the people living here now are to have any real control over our future, it’s critical that their governments prepare for the impacts today.

The seven municipalities and three counties that govern the people living between Aspen and Rifle need to begin looking together for ways to pay for the infrastructure and services that will surely be required.

A regional summit on growth just might be the solution. It would allow local governments to set aside their very real political differences and begin looking for ways to work together to protect the broader community from turning into a suburban disaster on the scale of Southern California.

If ever there were a time for us to set aside our differences and plan for the future, it is now.

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