Letter: Promoting Aspen
I don’t have a strong opinion one way or the other on the USA Pro Challenge. What I find interesting are the resources the city puts behind it to “promote Aspen.” I get it. As members of a city advisory board associated with recreation (the Aspen Recreation Center Advisory Board), we on this committee have long suggested that recreation facilities in Aspen are not like those in other communities because recreation is also Aspen’s business. So when we improve recreational facilities for ourselves, we also improve our business assets — win-win.
The city, rightly so, looks at revenues versus expenses, but every year all we hear about is the “subsidy” required to operate those facilities, and there is apparently zero benefit assigned to the positive promotional impacts. I understand that beaming pictures of studs in silk suits around the world can help our image, but how about a little more credit to the facilities that attract visitors, too? When people book their vacations, how many consider the recreational facilities a “resort” has to offer versus whether there is a bike race there when making their buying decision? Which serves them better?
Last year, when a generous donation was offered to the city to provide artificial turf and a winter bubble for Rotary Park, the mayor or the manager refused to even let the proposal be heard in front of the City Council. This year, the recently completed Aspen Recreation Center business plan called for a new fitness and aerobic facility at the center. The business plan suggested it would reduce subsidy, provide better service for the community and be an asset visitors consider as a part of their vacation-planning process. The community supported that as its No. 1 item in a survey. The council has elected not even to consider it. Uphill and bike races get a ton of attention from the council, while our current assets that are for all of us (visitors and residents alike) appear to get little credit for their promotional attributes and even less attention.