Roger Marolt: Yes, of course we can remove that mole
Have you ever noticed that Aspen is spectacular? Well, it is.
I’m not just talking about the majestic mountains that put us in our place as we stand in their shadows, shimmering lakes that reflect to us things contained in our souls that we didn’t know were in us and wilderness quilted with puffy stands of aspen and spruce that insulate us from the chill of a concrete world on its fringes, either.
There are many Colorado mountain towns surrounded by natural beauty equal to our own — Pagosa Springs, Silverton, Salida, Ouray and Durango are a few. Considering this, tell me why Aspen has surpassed them all, maybe collectively, as the place people from around the planet prefer to visit and live.
As unromantic as it is to admit, our town is the chosen destination because of the secret ingredients only humans can make and stir into the community batter. We are man-made and highly refined; empty calories with no fiber. Our town tastes good, is easy to chew and provides an instantaneous, satisfying sugar rush with every bite.
You might think a steady diet of flavor enhancers would ruin us, but there are other wonders of the modern, human-crafted world at work here, too. The municipal plastic surgeons covered by our high-premium, low-deductible master health plan are among the finest in the world at removing the wrinkles and bulbous rolls of fat that are an inevitable matter of fact in aging cities.
Our team of urban beauticians ensure there are no bald spots in our parks, every hedge is trimmed tight to the neckline, and there are no branches out of place along our sidewalks. Speaking of sidewalks, they are flat, crack-less, and perfectly straight. We have miles of trails that coax us to wander; mind, body and soulless electric bicycle.
We are adorned with trinkets. The public schools are among the best in this big nation. Our recreation center would be the envy of many professional sports teams. Our public transportation system is so first rate that it we take it for granted and rarely use it. If you get injured, our hospital is the place you want to be pampered as you are repaired and convalesce. The library is as nice a place to relax as any of our five-star hotel lobbies.
I have only scratched the surface of what makes this place the place we want to be; an oversized proportion of it brought to us by “wasteful” government spending. Yes, that is exactly how many people living, enjoying and profiting here choose to describe how the infrastructure that supports our man-made magnificence came to be — through waste.
If we have not proved the axiom that one has to spend money to make money, at the very least we have demonstrated that cash can convert an old mining town into a real estate convenience store for billionaires.
With a track record that spans nearly five decades, our local government has collected massive amounts of property and sales taxes from citizens and visitors and spent it. It sounds horrible when you put it that way, but we have taxed and spent our way to the pinnacle of prosperity. To what detriment has this obscene amount of spending for a population of roughly 5 or 6 thousand resulted? I would argue almost none that you can see, except maybe spoiling us rotten and tainting our worldview rose-colored, or is that rosé?
Who could persuasively argue that what our government has taken from us and dumped back into its community projects has not come back to each one of us in multiples unmatched by anything but the fish and loaves? If your home has tripled in value, do not credit that windfall on the wonderous summer afternoon thunder showers that make the lupine bloom. If you have a job profitable enough to allow you to ski 100 days each winter, I would caution you about giving credit for that to the downy powder that falls on the slopes.
People are attracted to Aspen because of what people have created here. The abundant natural beauty surrounding us is only icing on a three-layer cake leavened with loot and baked in the well-appointed kitchen we undoubtedly constructed with a zoning variance and a couple of TDRs.
What we enjoy here is an incredible rate of return earned on what our government has invested, not wasted, on our behalf. The decades-old prediction of Aspen’s downfall through wasteful spending has proven to be as mythical as a Twinkie’s expiration date.
Roger Marolt wonders if the Castle Creek Bridge project is plastic surgery or a bowel repair. Email at email@example.com.
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