Carroll: Will Wagner garage join Bandar, Hooters and light rail?
The media, The Aspen Times included, spend a lot of time pondering and covering what-if questions and would-be issues that never actually happen.
Just look at our online poll this week, which asks readers if they support the idea of an underground parking garage at Wagner Park.
By lunchtime Monday, nearly 70 percent of the respondents favored the concept, which has been both pummeled by Aspen’s opinion-page pundits and heralded by some letters-to-the-editor writers.
While considering what question to pose online this week for the poll, I almost didn’t want to dignify the Wagner Park issue because there’s no way it’ll happen, I reckoned.
But editors can’t and don’t use that mindset — as if we’re so smart that we already know the outcome of a developing story — toward our newspaper coverage. Were that the case, we’d blow off a number of proposals and ideas whose times have yet to come and some that actually take off.
Still, it’s entertaining to think of how Aspen and Pitkin County would look if many of these dead-on-arrival — or in some cases, death-by-1,000-cuts — proposals or rumors, most of which were reported by the local media, were actually realized.
• Every day, a light-rail service between Glenwood and Aspen would be transporting merry commuters along the Rio Grande railroad line. Maybe on a powder day, before work, some of these commuters would schlep their skis along for the ride and hop on the Summit Express to the top of Buttermilk. From there, they’d take the gondola from Buttermilk to Aspen Highlands, get a few turns in and then take the rail into town.
Or they could take a public bus, which would usher them along a perfectly dry Main Street, thanks to the snowmelt system in place. A heated Main Street certainly would draw some chuckles from our out-of-town friends, who could spend their nights at the 160,000-square-foot Lodge at Aspen Mountain and maybe enjoy a morning or two at the Aspen Ski Museum.
• An ideal summer evening could be spent at a Hooters in downtown Aspen for some Buffalo wings and a few pitchers of beer, with the conversation perhaps drifting off to those good times had at the Widespread Panic shows at the now-defunct Ship of Fools bar in Carbondale. On those days when we need a good workout, we could always bicycle to the Maroon Bells. But that will cost a fee, so put some money in your shoes.
• The current bickering over Burlingame Phase II wouldn’t be taking place because of the 778 units of affordable housing at W/J Ranch. It’s doubtful the massive project would have an impact on the house prices at Starwood, where Prince Bandar bin Sultan once owned a home. But Bandar is no more, having suffered an untimely death at the hands of raging dissenters somewhere in the Middle East.
For sure, I’ve spilled a few gallons of ink myself reporting about some of these issues and rumors, much like many former and current journalists who have patrolled the local beats. But that’s our job: Sometimes we report about proposals, ideas and rumors that never happen. Often they don’t happen because the public learns about it through our coverage, resulting in a chorus of opposition.
“Let the readers decide,” the media often say. And to their credit, readers play a major role in how ongoing stories develop. But an underground garage at Wagner Park? Here’s hoping our poll respondents come to their senses by burying the idea.
Rick Carroll is editor of The Aspen Times. He takes comments, complaints, questions and news tips at firstname.lastname@example.org.