Letter: It’s a wonderful ending | AspenTimes.com

Letter: It’s a wonderful ending

It’s Dec. 24, 2025, in Chicago, Colorado. Friendless, former Mayor Salmon wanders in a daze. How had “affordable” Off Base become a pricey boutique hotel with $1,200-a-night two-room suites?

Clark Bunt had promised Salmon a cheap haven for next-generation skiers, where they’d inhale Aspen’s intoxication and absorb the Aspen Idea. Even the mirage of St. Regis parking had vanished. Salmon and then council members Fish, Mullet and Whaley had taken the bait. Only former Mayor Mywin had warned that something smelled fishy. How could Salmon and the others have taken the lure hook, line and sinker?

In 2025, cars swarmed the corner of Monarch and Main hunting scarce parking. Pedestrians were terrified. No local-serving merchants remained. No deli, no pet shop, no wine store, no bike shop, no florist. They’d been replaced by real estate offices, clients ferried to and fro in self-driving limos. The Jerome had 10 floors; the Wheeler was a Four Seasons.

As Salmon tossed and turned that Christmas Eve, Angel Second Class Clarence Odbody appeared (watch the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” if you don’t follow this). Clarence took Salmon on a dreamy journey back to 2015. There were the newspaper columns by former Mayor Slick Tenspeed and by Drew “Not Born Yesterday” Plum, Dandy Diamond and Roger Thunderbolt, all warning that Off Base stank of Chicago-style back-room deals.

Clarence reminded Salmon how Bunt had reeled in the council but not the public. So he’d hired fellow developer Blayne Sombrero — the lipstick, as it were, to the Off Base pig. But the public thought, “Will the lipstick look better on Aspen’s Off Base than it did on Snowpile’s Off Base Village?” Clarence admonished Salmon that if the council fish had let Off Base go to a public vote, it would have been defeated, saving Aspen from the urbanization that followed.

“I get it now, Clarence,” Salmon cried. “How can I make it right?”

“Well, Salmon,” Clarence replied, “you could start by following the rules. Can you do that?”

“I promise; I promise,” Salmon cried.

Clarence led Salmon through a haze into the City Council chamber of Aug. 24, 2015. Bunt had just pulled his fast one. City Attorney “Houdini” Grim Stew had declared, “Behold as I revive the corpse of Bunt’s Off Base approval.” The room was tense. Salmon grabbed the gavel.

“I cannot ignore the law,” Salmon declared. “The petition requires we repeal the ordinance approving Off Base or send it to the voters. I can see how Off Base will despoil Aspen. We should allow a public vote, and we should urge citizens to vote “no.”

The crowd erupted. The political current pulled the other fish unwillingly along; they voted for a vote. Even Mywin agreed.

It’s Dec. 24, 2025, in Chicago, Colorado. In November 2015, the voters had voted “No on Off Base; No on Question 2B.” An attractive building conforming to code stands at Monarch and Main. Traffic moves smoothly. Pedestrians are safe. There is on-site parking. Local-serving businesses thrive. Universally revered, Salmon had served three mayoral terms. Local hero Ford Hauenheckcanwetrustem had succeeded him.

And Clarence had gotten his wings.

Maurice Emmer

Aspen


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