Letter: It’s time to finish the city’s utility plan
We owe a debt of gratitude to the early pioneers of Aspen who made decisions that have allowed us all to benefit from the “community quality” standards they set.
One of those was an early decision to put all electric and other utility services underground to allow the natural beauty of this city to shine through, unimpeded by wires, cables and transformers. That decision undoubtedly also contributes to the reliability of our utilities.
But despite common perceptions, not all of the city of Aspen has underground utilities. Some neighborhoods, such as Aspen Grove, are served by Holy Cross Electric, which has never completed putting all lines below ground. Inquiries about why those lines remain above ground and in the direct view plane of some mountainside communities and across the historic Aspen Grove Cemetery are answered with statistics showing that Holy Cross gives the city money every year to “underground” utility lines or for other community-improvement projects. This year, those funds are earmarked by the city for a bike race.
With the vast majority of the city’s overhead utilities already underground, it should be a relatively easy initiative to complete that project and give 100 percent of our neighborhoods equal standards for overhead utilities. And at a time when the city finds itself with an excess of funding from the real estate transfer tax, this might be the time for this project.
In an election year, it would be good to know what our candidates think about continuing the tradition of maintaining and improving the overall community quality standards in a way that their forbears once did.
This might be the ideal time to complete the undergrounding of the city’s utilities.