Paul E. Anna: High Points |

Paul E. Anna: High Points

Paul E. Anna
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

Before dawn one morning this past week, I was on my way to Sardy Field for the first flight out at 7 a.m. Coming up valley as I exited Snowmass Canyon I was greeted by a brightly lit “X” on the end of the runway.

Now this “X” is there to warn pilots who might be thinking of making a nocturnal landing on the runway, that it is strictly forbidden. And with all of the work that was being done on the runway on this particular morning, that was a wise warning. But it occurred to me that the “X” was a perfect symbol to use to protest those who have plans to blow up our little airport and put in one of a size and scale that should also be forbidden.

The discussions about increasing the size of the Aspen-Pitkin County Airport have faded a bit after this summer’s preliminary announcements and community input sessions. The lingering memory for those who paid attention was the pronouncement that the proponents weren’t going to necessarily build all of the 80,000-square-foot terminal that they had originally penciled in. But rather, they were just going to get approvals so that they could if they needed too. Uh-huh.

The thing is, I like our airport just the way it is. Small, somewhat homey, and purely Aspen. Sure it gets busy on summer mornings when the Institute folks, or the MotherLode Volleyball players, or the Music Festival fans are hightailing it out of town. And I understand that the crowds in ski season can make the lines at security swell. But if the airport were bigger it would still be busy and it would still swell. It would just swell and be busy in a bigger building.

We have this infectious frenzy here in this town to just make everything bigger. The art museum is the most obviously infected organization and, while I’m sure it will be a great art museum, it really doesn’t need to be here. And the library folks are also on the path to build bigger, just because. I love art, I love books and I love to fly. But the airport, the library and the art museum we have are not only adequate for a community our size, they are jewels.

But once these things get going, they take on a life of their own. The powers behind them have the resources, the patience and the self-aggrandizing motives to figure out ways to push them through. They can make it happen regardless of whether the majority feels a need because they simply want to do it.

For many a year during the holiday season, a peace sign framed in Christmas lights on a barn lit up Old Snowmass and could be seen by one and all as they crested Watson Divide. Sadly, the sign burns no more as the property was sold. But I thought of that peace sign when I saw the “X” that morning.

May it burn bright.

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