Pitkin County should focus on the real crises | AspenTimes.com

Pitkin County should focus on the real crises

It’s interesting that as we renew health insurance with 30 percent increases to already criminal local rates, Pitkin County is assessing Open Space and Trails comments on the Crystal bike trail.

The Crystal River Caucus voted in favor of a motion Nov. 9 for commissioners to scrap public input from OST’s website because, without a “none of the above” option, it was skewed. Other motions passing by similar 90 percent margins included: 1) commissioners meet Crystal residents before a decision, 2) no trail in multiple wildlife areas, 3) no takings of private property, 4) more transparent project cost info. These results are still not on the Pitco website, curiously.

It’s ludicrous that a project of this magnitude is even being considered when there are two major crises driving working-class Americans out of this valley daily: affordable housing and health insurance costs.

We can’t afford to house teachers, police, emergency responders, the working class, yet we can spend $25 million to $100 million on a trail through wildlife habitat and private property? Working couples will now pay $2,000-plus month on health insurance and we’re going to build a trail to indulge egos of officials who don’t live along it?

We’re told COGO and other budgets are earmarked for projects like this, and Pitco meets with other local jurisdictions to plan this project. Why can’t area commissioners coordinate with state officials to address our local crises instead, and recommend our money be redirected from indulgences to what we really need to survive and stay here?

The Crystal is not Aspen or the Roaring Fork Valley, which is why we chose to live here. Many people have left the Roaring Fork Valley lately because housing and insurance costs leave them with nothing — who can blame them for leaving a place they can’t afford to live and can’t even recognize any more because of all the development?

Local officials can help rebuild trust in democracy that is absent up to the highest office. It starts by coordinating with state and regional officials to act on true budgetary priorities. Listen to the citizens and address their real needs — not indulgences.

David E. Johnson


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