Aspen Times Roses and Thorns (Nov. 30 2018)
November 29, 2018
• Thorns to the Aspen Skiing Co. brass for their inconsistent philosophy on chairlifts on Aspen Mountain.
Skico executives past and present have insisted for years that Lift 1A couldn't be replaced with a modern, multi-million dollar model unless lodges were approved at the base to help pay for it. They maintained that position despite the shutdown of the ancient lift for weeks in January 2015 after a tooth broke off the bullwheel. The decision not to replace the lift also has cost Aspen the chance to host World Cup ski races for the foreseeable future.
Meanwhile, Skico pursued and received approval Wednesday for a new multimillion-dollar detachable quad chairlift to serve the Pandora terrain expansion on Aspen Mountain's upper east side. That lift won't generate significant additional business to Aspen Mountain, yet Skico was willing to make the investment. Skico's application to the Forest Service said it is pursing the Pandora expansion "to satisfy guests' desires and expectations for improved facilities, which enable Aspen Mountain to retain its World Class reputation."
This thorn isn't a knock on the Pandora project. It's criticism of Skico's inconsistencies and blatant use of Lift 1A to try to force development at the base. It was willing to build a new lift on the upper east side of the mountain, while saying a base lift on the west side wasn't possible without the city's approval of the development.
• Roses go to the residents who serve on the Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority Board who not only give their time but are put in difficult situations every time they have to listen to the pleas of an individual who lives in deed-restricted housing that didn't follow the rules and are being forced out as a result. Those board members are compassionate individuals who are trying to protect the integrity of the program and ensure that qualified people are living in a much-needed resource in this community.
• Thorns to Vail Resorts and Colorado Ski Country USA for an ongoing dispute with consequences for skiers and snowboarders throughout the state.
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Vail Resorts pulled out of Colorado Ski Country USA, a state trade association, in 2008 over marketing issues. One consequence has been that for the past decade, the online Colorado Ski Country snow report hasn't included Vail Mountain, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge or Keystone. Now that Vail Resorts has purchased Crested Butte, it's also excluded from the so-called statewide snow report.
Yes, the information is readily available elsewhere online, but it would be more convenient for ski enthusiasts to be able to find the information at the state trade association's website. For an industry with stagnant overall growth, the dispute sure seems silly.
• A thorn goes to the crews who worked on behalf of the city of Aspen to fix a pothole that emerged on the Castle Creek Bridge after the road had been completely stripped down to the studs and resurfaced as part of a months-long overhaul of the entrance to town corridor. What's worse is they chose some cheap material that didn't hold, which forced the city to come back this week and fix the pothole again, this time disrupting traffic with a one-way lane. Enough already with the bridge. Residents and tourists have endured enough with all the detours and backed-up traffic. And what's with the three-sided bus shelters at Eighth Street so the wind comes blowing in?
• Roses go to Farm Collaborative (formerly known as Aspen TREE) for hosting a beautiful, free farm-to-table community dinner the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. The food was outstanding — five stars for the meatloaf — and many walks of Aspen life were on hand.
• Roses go to the Snowmass Chapel, the Rotary Club of Snowmass, the town of Snowmass, Alpine Bank and the Snowmass community at large for organizing its annual John Bemis Thanksgiving community potluck and food drive the Sunday before Thanksgiving.