Weighing in on the White Shirts
I have never been much for uniforms of any kind, and I must say I was as surprised to see so many of Aspen’s hard-core mavericks donning the white heart shirts at the last City Council meeting as I would have been to see them wearing yellow smiley-face T’s. That being said, it was heartening to see an outburst of HOWLS, as it is difficult to look up, down or sideways in Aspen anymore without our eyes being assaulted by some new atrocity. On the other hand, I feel confident that if any five shirt-wearers had been plucked from the council room and asked to reach agreement (I won’t use the “c” word) on what should be done about Aspen’s dilemma, it would not take long for blood to be shed. Add five random people from the general public – say one construction worker, one realtor, one businessperson, one developer and one illegal and we’d have our own little Iraq – up close and personal.I loved Ritchie Cohen’s idea of a wide open, unfacilitated public town meeting, with no easels of paper on which to scribble power points, no breaking up into small groups. Yes! Now that would be one meeting I wouldn’t want to miss, but at the same time I wonder what it would accomplish. The new year-round music tent would be a good arena to hold it in, as it is large enough to handle the crowd. At first I thought the seating could be divided into blocks, with the greedheads in one area and the greenheads in another, but then I realized that there would be too much overlap: Where, for instance, would you put the ones who are all for employee housing and bike paths anywhere except in their back yards?Where, in fact, would I sit? I would love to see all of Aspen’s trophy homes burned in the new fire pit on the mall, with the fire pit thrown in after it, but I cannot at all agree with the suggestion not to delist any more historic residences when my miner’s shack is trapped on that list for no valid reason except that I was too shortsighted to scrape it when I could. It was never a darling Victorian that I should be “proud to restore to its original glory.” It is and always was a boring tear down with no redeeming qualities.So should I sit with the scrapers or the ones who want to save the Cooper Street (in the interest of accuracy, that should be Cooper AVENUE) Pier? I only bring this up as an example of the many dichotomies we face as a community.I think the City Council hearts Aspen as much as many of us do, and if the White Shirts have answers, they will be well-received. To say that Jack Johnson thinks “preservation stinks and unbridled development is the answer” shows an ignorance of his record. You know that J.E. is not pro-growth, nor are Rachel, Torre and Helen the enemy here, and anyone who thinks the Limelight was an easy decision should run for council. To be effective, the White Shirts have to be organized and rational. It’s easy to bemoan (I bemoan them) the loss of the Chart House, La Cocina, the Mother Lode and the impending threat to the Isis, but we turned down the purchase of the latter two and as for the former, Herbie Balderson died and Nick Lebby retired and god knows what will happen to the Jerome, but I will give you odds that when the dust settles the J-Bar will no longer be welcoming the riffraff. And what are we supposed to do to save that venerable institution, buy the Jerome?We may be the richest little town in America, but we’re not rich enough to buy it all and if we did we’d be a company town, with all the businesses owned by the city, and we wouldn’t want that, either, would we?Su Lum is a longtime local who mourns the death of Nick DeWolf, an Aspen treasure who can never be replaced. Her column appears every Wednesday in The Aspen Times.
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