Gustafson: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it |

Gustafson: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it

Colloquial phrases and popular American proverbs remind us of the common-thread that binds the cultural human experience. These antiquated sayings communicate those universal truths derived from experience, and they can certainly help get us through the day.

Because things are not always what they seem, there is a kind of comfort in hearing those well-known pithy expressions. After all, if every cloud has a silver lining, then all’s well that ends well, right? Despite the eye-roll-invoking cliches, there is a nugget of knowledge to be gleaned in phrases that seem to stand the test of time.

There are some expressions that I can take with a grain of salt. I’d rather not beat a dead horse or kill two birds with one stone, but if it’s been done, it’s been said, and when it comes to proverbial poetry, I figure if it’s going to rain then it may as well pour.

The proverbial idiom that I’m currently fixated on is one attributed to Burt Lance. The director of the office of management and budget under President Jimmy Carter was the first to notably speak the phrase, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

He explained, “That’s the trouble with government: Fixing things that aren’t broken and not fixing things that are broken.”

The impulse to reinvent the wheel seems as alluring to our human instincts as flies are drawn to honey.

Still, I feel like it’s time to check that impulse. It seems there are enough examples right here in Snowmass of putting the cart before the horse, which can attest to the fact that the more something is fiddled with, the more likely that something will end up worse than how it began — especially when the motivation for meddling with elements that are already working is hubris or for a little one-upsmanship.

That said, I don’t understand the counterargument for building another roundabout at the intersection of Brush Creek and Owl Creek roads. If something is not functioning the way it should, then it is broken, and only then should you plan repairs or improvements. To alter a functioning process will either complicate the matter or cause potential failure. If you’re rushing home like a bat out of hell and the only thing between you and home sweet home is a stop sign, remember that what goes around comes around.

If it takes two to tango, then we should be set with our current roundabouts at the entryway to the village and the base of our new urban plaza. In between the two, I offer this adage: Variety is the spice of life. There is value in enjoying the rural experience that we still have as part of our entrance to town.

If the proposed roundabout at the fire station intersection is about being better safe than sorry, perhaps we should consider that concept in the broader context of the town’s character as a whole. Or we could just call a spade a spade, because if the intersection could be problematic, shouldn’t we cross that bridge when we get to it?

I’m pretty sure we have experienced what happens when we risk “fixing” something for marginally perceived gains.

Speaking of Base Village, we could let bygones be bygones, as we certainly learned that if you give developers an inch, they’ll take a mile. We are not yet out of the woods or Lost Forest on how current changes will impact our community.

If something doesn’t need fixing, perhaps it is best used as a model to fix other things.

If our town wants to continue to put our money where its mouth is, I’d like to know they have remembered that there is more than one way to skin a cat, and that a penny saved is a penny earned.

Maybe our developers back Thomas Edison’s cliche, “I’ve failed 1,000 times, and succeeded once.” In this neck of the woods, we don’t have the real estate to play those stakes. I think to “maintain and preserve” should be front and center in our thinking about community management.

I suppose our planning department wants and needs to plan, and our town engineer wants and needs to engineer; just like our town manager wants and needs to manage his staff, somehow believing the job is to facilitate the staff’s plan to build and engineer.

However, if necessity is the mother of all invention, why do we continue to look our gift horse in the mouth?

As election season approaches, please remember that actions speaks louder than words. With regard to the new comprehensive plan, perhaps it’s true that you can’t judge a book by its cover — or is it from cover to cover? I always mix that one up. Well done is better than well said.

If we are going to put all of our development eggs in one basket, we shouldn’t continue to count the chickens before they hatch.

As the early bird seeking the worm, I would rather not wake up one day to see that the urban sprawl of Base Village has finally crept down Brush Creek.

The realization that our unique mountain town’s character is at stake should be an onerous reminder that absence makes the heart grow fonder. Our visitors may tend to agree once we have killed our golden goose. We should keep in mind that there are plenty of other resort fish in the sea.

Finally, let’s recall that the grass isn’t always greener, and sometimes a bird in hand really is worth two in the bush.

In an effort not to burn my bridges, I admit I may be wrong, but then again, I wasn’t born yesterday.

Let’s exchange a piece of my mind for a little peace of mind; after all, if we always agree what will we talk about? Britta Gustafson appreciates an open mind; share yours and email her at


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