Lada’s problem a sign of the times in Aspen
I am disgusted after reading your article on August 2 regarding Lada Vrany (“Eviction is likely for Lada Vrany”).This article is fuel to the fire for people that make fun of our “used to be cool ski town.” Now it seems to be just a time share and real estate market from hell. What happened to the ordinance that forbids new time shares and real estate offices from opening on the ground floor in Aspen? BJ Adams and the Dancing Bear offices are opening this month under some kind of grandfather clause or loophole. Can we do something to stop professionals from leaving town to go downvalley to make a living?The reason I moved here and not Vail was because this was a viable town. Yet the county or city does not seem to want to keep it a town. There are around ten people that own a majority of downtown and have a strangle hold on the council and the direction this town is going. Can we do the right thing to keep this town a viable community?What about commercial rent control or imposing a tax on the stores like Gucci and “Louis whatever it is” that ship 60 to 80 percent of their sold goods out of state so they don’t have to pay tax on them and generate money for this town? Not to mention the fact that they don’t really have to make money. A majority of these stores don’t turn a profit, they are just token stores and shipping warehouses. Management is trying to portray an image of success with store location labels reading New York, London, Beverly Hills, and Aspen, yet these stores are driving viable businesses out of town. Look at the numbers – they are upside down. You can’t open or run a business because it is too expensive to do so, unless you like going bankrupt or are a trust-funder. We have lost 2,500 beds in Aspen during the past ten or so years to time shares and real estate ventures.Now let’s get back to Lada, who is made out to be a freeloader who is asking for a free handout from this community. Lada may be a crotchety old man, but he is entitled to be. He is 87 years old and works 12-hour days while the county is trying to evict him from his ranch.Let me explain Lada to you – He is a rancher who needs to be able to have irrigation water to grow crops and food for cattle. Ranchers must work 10- to 12-hour days, seven days a week. If the county doesn’t let Lada grow crops or graze cattle on his ranch with their new lease, what do you expect an 87-year-old rancher to do? Even if they pay Lada a small amount of money, how does he make a living? His tenants were evicted earlier this year. Some of them had been there over 20 years without any complaints. His house is over 100 years old, and he just insulated it the year before last – obviously he is a man of modest means. This man has been ranching the same land for almost 50 years, and they want to tell him to move out and do something else?Perhaps the county has already sold his water rights to more expensive homes above him, and has other uses for his water rights. What happened to Colorado statutes? If someone lives on and works the land in Colorado for over 32 years, the land and water rights become theirs. Now the county can’t wait for Lada to win a lawsuit or die, since they have other uses for his land and water rights.The last time the airport manager had a conflict with land was on the other ranch east of the airport where they expanded last year. If I remember correctly, the county evicted that landowner and offered them one-fourth of what their land was worth. They then moved the new airport manager into that house for the next year after evicting the owner. It now looks as if the county has a new agenda for Lada’s land. If Lada has no right to this land then what happened to the deal the county tried to give Lada in the late ’80s or ’90s? It consisted of a new ranch in Old Snowmass, that he would own, farm and work. Is this land too expensive now? The county does not have to worry – someday Lada will be dead, just like this town.You cannot sustain a country, state or local economy on real estate and time share sales. We have to produce something of value to the community, or be providing a service for people who live and work in the community for this town to be viable. We don’t need to go back to 1970’s, but unless something is done to stop the bleeding of businesses closing and moving down valley, we will implode. When a town moves toward time shares it is at the end of the cycle because no one else can afford to operate their businesses. This town has always had progressive thinkers, and now it’s time to put our minds together and do something about what is going on in our town.Hey, I have a great idea. Why don’t we kick Lada off his land by the weekend, and that way we can re-zone the property for a new time share and real estate venture that will make the town all kinds of money. We could make Lada a real estate broker and use the soon-to-be closed down space of Cooper Street Pier and The Red Onion as the selling offices. We should not have any problem finding a loophole to open those offices either.The average life expectancy in this country is 78, and Lada has outlived it by 9 years and counting. This is a remarkable feat considering he climbs up ladders onto his office roof every summer to tar it so it doesn’t leak in the winter. I know this because I have had to lift the 25-gallon tar bucket up to him. Why can’t we focus on saving our community and work out a deal with Lada so he can continue to do what keeps him alive, his ranch?Eric Haynie is a resident of Aspen.
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