Skarvan: The construction machine |

Skarvan: The construction machine

Returning from a wonderfully peaceful, Sunday-morning walk with my dog and hearing nothing but birds chirping, I couldn’t help but wonder what our tiny city in the heart of the mountains would be like without non-stop construction, Sunday our only respite.

Monday through Saturday, the construction machine hums and hammers away, diminishing our quality of life, our resort guest experience and, most importantly, our precious environment. Construction generates about a third of our traffic and every type of pollution, putting toxic air pollution directly into our lungs and stressful noise pollution into our ears.

In our town of 7,000 residents, we have over 1,000 active construction sites, clearly unhealthy and unsustainable. 

I guess I’m a dreamer and idealist, but what if? What if we thoughtfully and courageously restricted construction, whether residential, commercial or civic?

We’d allocate a limited number of opportunities annually according to our values noted in the Aspen Area Community Plan. Have residents both old and new read it? It’s very educational, offering crucial insights. Involving years of time and input from thousands of residents, our community plan reveals who we are, serving as a guideline for smart growth — not unlimited growth. 

When will enough be enough? Half of us drew the line at the biggest project in modern times, the 320,000 square foot luxury development at Lift 1A. We were told it would be a locally-managed project necessary for World Cup to return. Both those campaign promises have proven to be untrue.

But, the severely oversized (and under housed) mega-development still wasn’t enough. When a few county commissioners said “enough is enough,” one changed her mind, admittedly under intense development community pressure, and we’ve opened Pandora’s Box, our new tag line becoming “New Aspen — when too much is never enough.”

The construction and corresponding destruction of our environment is in the pipeline, which will add to our current pollution, traffic, stress and angst.

Erik Skarvan