Aspen should heed Next Generation’s advice
October 19, 2017
The letter from the Next Generation Advisory Commission ("Housing seniors in the future," Oct. 12, The Aspen Times) and the column by Meredith Carroll ("Beware Aspen's NextGen in sheep's clothing," Oct. 18, The Aspen Times), as well as the comments, highlight a huge problem for Aspen. Bluntly, Aspen's future requires that the Next Generation group be taken seriously — even though it means some tough decisions to leave by those who are there. Mrs. Carroll's blatantly dismissive column condemns Aspen to a bleak future.
Now as one who has relocated to Denver from the valley, I am not sure I should comment. However, it seems to me there is a very big economic issue here. Let me focus on one particular problem, although it is general.
The problem starts with the ability to attract young professionals to the valley, especially those in medicine. The younger members of the medical profession who have taken on significant debt usually cannot afford to live upvalley. Yet they have children for whom they high aspirations. They cannot find the good schools downvalley. They also work long hours and thus cannot avail themselves easily of RFTA.
So guess what? They take jobs elsewhere.
Meantime, the older people staying in Aspen place greater and greater demands on the medical system. There is an imbalance between supply and demand. There are not enough good doctors to go around. Insurance rates skyrocket. The few doctors who remain will gradually withdraw from Medicare and all those living in the valley will be left with insufficient but very high cost health care. This is what Ms. Carroll's dismissive attitude assures.
What are the solutions? Build more housing in Aspen. Make the commute easier (that means more cars in Aspen). Subsidize schools downvalley so that the high-quality professionals needed by the valley are attracted to it.
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The alternative — if you follow Ms. Carroll's advice — is to see costs of all services skyrocket, making it economically impossible for the people who want to stay in their homes survive.
It is a Darwinian situation. The cities that have solved the problem survive and prosper. Those who do not will not.