Andersen: Heavenly Pitkin County |

Andersen: Heavenly Pitkin County

“Heaven can wait … this is paradise.” So crooned Dean Martin in romantic lyrics exulting how the bliss of corporeal love can be so potent as to transcend the mortal world. Deano was a landlocked angel.

So are most of the folks in Pitkin County, given statistics released recently by Pitkin County from a community survey conducted in February.

The findings confirm that Pitkin County is a paradise populated by contented residents beaming with positive vibes of appreciation for the good fortune and many blessings of living a hallowed existence in the upper Roaring Fork Valley.

If you think that skiing and hot tubs are the only cherished amenities, think again. This survey reveals far more depth.

Where the once venerated philosopher Mortimer Adler referred to Aspen as the “Athens of the West,” those blessed to live in Pitkin County today might compare it to Mount Olympus, home of the gods.

According to the survey, a vast majority — 96 percent — of residents rated the county as either “excellent” or “good” as a place to live. The other 4 percent either refused to answer or were having a bad day, which can happen, even in paradise.

When asked about the overall “quality of life,” 95 percent of county residents surveyed (525 contacts) rated the county as either “excellent” or “good.” Not many communities can say that — except during happy hour.

Quality of life is many things to many people, but the high percentage of satisfied local residents indicates that, by practically any measure, the high life is being lived and celebrated by most of the people most of the time. (And this was before the first legal marijuana dispensary had opened its doors.)

One would think that with such a high measure of contentment, the majority of Pitkin County residents would be grinning ear-to-ear, whistling happy tunes and skipping down the streets.

Yet, on a recent trip upvalley from Basalt, where the quality of life has yet to be plumbed, I noticed dour expressions on several people I passed on the mall. I could only guess that these sourpusses were not Pitkin County residents, but disheartened tourists who wished that they were.

Studying the survey to better understand the reasons behind Pitco’s blissful effusion, I was surprised to find that high satisfaction was accorded to the landfill. This is an unusual qualifier that says a lot. Few communities can list the county dump as a source of elation.

Other barometers of personal pleasure and general glee from the survey show that 63 percent of residents surveyed rated the value they receive for their county taxes and fees as either “excellent” or “good.”

Only super-happy residents exult about the way their taxes are spent. Such confidence indicates a level of satisfaction that is almost too good to believe. I searched further.

Some 75 percent indicated that they receive either some benefit (26 percent) or great benefit (49 percent) from the open space and trails portion of their property tax dollars. It’s good to know that parks and trails swell the breasts of residents with deep feelings of plenitude.

The highest levels of satisfaction, however, were described by the combined percentage of “very satisfied” and “satisfied” responses among residents over the high level of personal safety in the county.

This was defined by a sense of ease walking down streets and through parks. It revealed a widespread feeling of bodily safety, even when feeling the crush in the ever popular (72 percent) X Games mosh pit at the base of Buttermilk during a celestial visitation by Shaun White.

The more I discovered, the more it became clear that Pitkin County shines as a heavenly haven akin to the Big Rock Candy Mountain, that promised land in the Smoky Mountains nestled between the sacred mounds of Dollywood.

Those of us who don’t live in Pitkin County may want to rethink our life choices. In lieu of moving there, which most of us can’t afford, the best we can hope is that some of Pitco’s overall contentment spills across county boundaries and makes each of us just a little happier through a contact high.

Paul Andersen’s column appears on Mondays. He can be reached by email at

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