Carroll: Take the rec center fight outside? No thanks |

Carroll: Take the rec center fight outside? No thanks

I live in Aspen. As such, it would be a fool’s errand for me to tell residents of the Crown Mountain Recreation District how they should cast their votes on the proposed recreation center.

This newspaper, however, will weigh in on the rec center in the form of an endorsement later this week. When we consider endorsements, we study the issues by talking to opponents and foes of a particular ballot issue. We review the arguments made in letters to the editor, guest opinions and columns. We also look at the financial impacts of the proposal, and when it’s a development, as is the case with the rec center, we study its size and potential impacts on the environment and quality of life.

The more I’ve become familiar with the pros and cons of the proposed rec center, the more I’ve come to recognize the personal impacts of a property tax increase and how the size and scope of the proposed center threaten to accelerate the eroding quaintness of the midvalley.

Those are valid points that voters must consider in addition to what they want for Basalt-El Jebel area.

But despite all of the well-made arguments against and in support of the rec center, there’s one claim that strikes me as universally flawed and equally sanctimonious: We have the mountains, rivers and canyons to enjoy and therefore have no need to exercise indoors.

That’s just nonsense, so let’s just call a ruse a ruse.

I reincarnated my running career back in 2001 and have run nearly every mile outdoors. I’d rather eke out my miles on the icy roads and trails in a blizzard than gallop in place on treadmills, Stairmasters or whatever stationary workout machine a gym offers. I dread exercising indoors, but just because that’s my personal preference doesn’t mean it’s everyone else’s.

On that same note, try telling an aspiring swimmer to just throw on a wetsuit and swim Ruedi Reservoir instead of hitting an indoor lap pool.

One could employ that same type of self-righteous reasoning by advising someone not to buy a ski pass because they’re too damn expensive: You don’t need a chairlift. Just hike up and ski down, you wuss!

Over the years, I’ve enjoyed the Aspen Recreation Center more because of my son and two daughters than anything else. My apologies to all mountaineers voting against the midvalley rec center, but my 5-year-old daughter has enjoyed the ARC’s climbing wall, to a certain degree at least, and isn’t quite ready to conquer the crags of Independence Pass. Not to mention rappel down. Perhaps she’s guilty of being a princess, but that’s not the ARC’s fault.

I’ve been sidelined by a few injuries over the years that prevented me from running, but the ARC pool, as much as I loathe swimming, helped keep me fit during those downtimes.

No doubt, residents of the Roaring Fork Valley have it good when it comes to outdoor exercise opportunities.

But not everybody has time for a four-hour hike with life’s other demands on their plate. You certainly can’t play basketball year-round in this kind of climate. And Ruedi isn’t the best place to take a swim when its surface is frozen nearly half of the year.

Indeed, there are valid arguments against the proposed rec center, and if I lived down there, I’m not sure how I would vote. But among the many factors to consider, the opportunities that await outdoors wouldn’t be one of them.

Rick Carroll is editor of The Aspen Times. He takes comments, complaints, questions and news tips at

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