Letter: Commute versus community | AspenTimes.com

Letter: Commute versus community

I see many flaws in Glenn Beaton’s Sunday argument pooh-poohing employee housing (“Aspen’s government housing projects are falling down,” The Aspen Times, March 6). We who live in employee housing (taxpaying residents) do not generally wish to flip our housing for a profit. Most live here because we love the outdoors and all Aspen has to offer. I personally am not looking to profit from my subsidized real estate but rather to enjoy a high quality of life. I don’t live here for the Wi-Fi on buses, high-end shops and overbuilt art museum. Though the icing on the cake is nice, I live here for the fresh mountain air and clean living.

What would Aspen be, anyway, with only people living here who could afford the currently inflated market? It never would’ve gotten a start, as the miners who founded it were dirt-poor, too. No, it wouldn’t be much of a community, as no one would be here year round, much like the truck stop of 176, aka Vail. There’s no denying “the world needs ditch diggers, too.” Yet tossing a few shillings to “the help” for us to go live somewhere else and commute to work is not a sustainable model of community living, here or anywhere, as evidenced by war in foreign lands over fuel. Commuting creates even more air pollution and congestion, to name just another locally felt repercussion of its flaw. Furthermore, has Beaton been on a bus lately? They are jam-packed! All who can come upvalley on a bus seem to be using this wonderful amenity, and there is still a superfluity of traffic up Highway 82 every morning.

I have shared the past several housing lotteries with a minimum of 30 other families in an attempt to get a two- or three-bedroom with my growing family. Among those hoping for the luck of the draw are people who have lived here for some time and have invested their lives here. We are teachers, ski patrollers, nurses, paramedics, bus drivers and more. We are not the rat-pack scammers Beaton makes us out to be. We make up the community. We tend to do the best we can in maintaining our humble dwellings in gratitude of the beauty that surrounds us in Aspen. It’s a beauty I would trade nothing for, even if it is upgraded with Wi-Fi. That said, to continue with a vibrant community, we need fewer empty mansions and more employee housing.

Erica Purcell