Paul E. Anna: High Points | AspenTimes.com

Paul E. Anna: High Points

Paul E. Anna
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

This is such a beautiful place. Why can’t we just leave it alone?

I was struck by that thought this past Tuesday when I read Steve Skinner’s column in the Aspen Daily News titled “Praying for a Flood on the Crystal.” Why would anyone hope the Crystal floods, I questioned?

It seems that Steve floats the Crystal River regularly and loves it just the way it is. There are vast open spaces, small homes that dot the sides of the hills and generally peace and quiet all the way down. Recently, someone whom Steve is acquainted with built a lot line-to-lot line spec home that is completely out of place on the Crystal River and it drives Steve crazy.

I know the feeling.

I live in Old Snowmass and there is a project going on that will change the area forever. It seems someone with more dollars than sense decided, after purchasing a piece of property in one of our most pristine and gorgeous valleys, that it was necessary to reshape that patch of land in his or her own image. That what he or she bought wasn’t good enough or pretty enough without being bulldozed, moved, reconfigured, reorganized and basically @#%$ed with.

For close to a quarter-mile, all of what was there before has been molded into a flat piece of dirt surrounded by fences that confuse the deer and the elk and a pond or two that are being crafted to look like swimming pools. Everyday there are bulldozers, Caterpillars, dump trucks, rock crushers and an army of worker bees moving this pile from here to there so that some sort of master plan can implemented.

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Leave aside the lack of consideration this person has for his neighbors who must negotiate the construction site next to a road that has abutted the property in peace for, oh I don’t know, 50 years. And never mind the animals that are displaced by the destruction of what had been a pretty great place for the deer and the antelope to play.

Forget all that and ask, “Why?” If the place was not beautiful enough the way it was, then why buy it to begin with? If one needed something different then why not find a parcel that was better suited to your needs? Perhaps the answer is money. Maybe these people feel that they can make a killing by building a pond-laden, rock-enhanced, hedge and hill built, long-gated driveway estate and selling it down the road. Seems like a lot of effort to me. The scuttlebutt in the valley is that this is the beginning of a five-year project.

I’m guessing that Steve and I both agree that we should live in a live and let live world. That people should be free to do what they want with their private property. But people who infringe on the natural beauty of places like the Crystal River and Old Snowmass need to recognize that when they construct things in their own image they deplete forever something that belongs to everyone. Once this five-year plan is complete the area, the neighborhood will never be the same.

This is not something that just afflicts he Crystal River and Old Snowmass, it happens up and down the Roaring Fork Valley, indeed in just about every beautiful pocket of this earth. I wish that those who are privileged enough to be able buy such wonderful pieces of property would think about the consequences of their actions.

This is such a beautiful place. Why can’t we just leave it alone?