Aspen Times’ Roses and Thorns
• Roses to the city of Aspen for allowing at least two streets free of orange construction cones. And even more roses to the city if it puts its $51,000 new logo on the existing street cones.
• Yet the city deserves a thorn or two also, being that every 50 feet there’s a back-up beep, a screaming jackhammer or some other loud instrument rattling your brain. The amount of construction in downtown Aspen has reached a fever pitch. Two city councilmen acknowledged the urban assault we are under in recent public meetings. They suggested to city staff that if there was a way to reduce the amount of projects next time around, please do.
We appreciate them acknowledging what has clearly been a boondoggle. We hope the direction is taken seriously for future offseasons. And if some things fall off the list, then so be it.
But in the meantime, there is something our elected leaders can do to ease our pain: Declare a day or two when no construction can happen. The city does it for the Food & Wine Classic and the winter holiday break so our guests can enjoy town. Aren’t the locals who stay here and run this town good enough for that same treatment? Do it by proclamation and give us a break. Then we’ll offer you a bouquet with a dozen long-stems.
• Roses to Gary Melchow, a supervisor with the traffic control company dealing with the Castle Creek Bridge project, who came up with a bang-up solution to the nasty late afternoon traffic backups that reached around Original Curve and down to City Market last week. Referred to by project officials as “The Double Flush,” the idea was to stop inbound traffic at Cemetery Lane for between six and 10 minutes and allow outbound traffic to exit the city via both the Castle Creek Bridge and Power Plant Road. The solution worked brilliantly and is now used on a daily basis, said Pete Rice, project engineer. So, from Aspen’s motoring public, thanks Gary.
• Roses to Aspen High School’s spring athletes, who kept their seasons going with some outstanding playoff performances. Well done, Skiers.
• Roses to the White River National Forest for taking a leap into the 21st century when it comes to presenting information to the public.
The agency and the contractor helping with the review of Aspen Skiing Co.’s proposal to expand into the Pandora terrain on Aspen Mountain produced an interactive “story map” that uses maps and copy to get into details of the proposal. It also presents the U.S. Forest Service’s preliminary findings.
It’s light years ahead of the traditional websites and storyboards at public open houses that the Forest Service has long relied on. It’s a way for the public agency to present plans and its complicated review process in a user-friendly way.
• Thorns — and one with sharp points — to those motorists who insist on flicking cigarette ashes and butts out their windows. (Yeah, we’re talking about you, driver of a silver Toyota Prius heading west on Highway 82 between Basalt and El Jebel at about 12:30 p.m. Wednesday.) We can appreciate they don’t want those foul-smelling things snuffed out in their ashtrays, but that’s tough. We’re living in a drought, even if it’s rained enough to green up vegetation. It won’t be long and those discarded butts will start a wildland fire. If you have to smoke, keep your butt in your vehicle.
• Roses to the restaurants and businesses that stay open for most, or all, of the offseason. Nothing says, “We love and appreciate our locals” better than keeping the doors open year-round for Aspen’s working class.
• Thorns to the two guys at the top of the Ute Trail on Wednesday evening blaring obscure rave techno from their phones. The reward for enduring those switchbacks (aside from the workout) is being able to peacefully take in the view at the top. The cellular cacophony that was “untz untz untz,” however, made this entirely impossible. There is a reason for the invention of headphones and ear buds — this is that reason.
• Roses to Pitkin County commissioners, who are set later this month to officially allow class 1 e-bikes on the Rio Grande Trail and other paved or hard-pack trails in the area. The move will benefit older people who want to get outside and cycle as well as commuters who might like the extra help the tiny electric motors provide getting to and from work in the construction- and traffic-plagued Aspen metropolis. The expected action also satisfies a goal of the current Aspen City Council and mayor, which want people out of their cars.
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