Marolt: Dying to live where construction can never stop
There is inevitability about construction in a resort town and never has it been highlighted more fluorescently with cones, vests and surveyors’ graffiti than in the Castle Creek Bridge project at the Entrance to Aspen. In the deepest corners of the foundations of our desires, I think we might actually love it.
We are going to have it even though nobody says they want it, and that might be the greatest proof that we want it after all. After it’s finished, we will glow over the results, looking at the completed project and think, “My, what a lovely place we live in,” and it encourages us to start planning the next one.
The overall effect is usually to make our town more desirable, which makes more people want to come here, which raises our salaries and property values, which makes building and improving our focus, which we view like a strict diet of prunes necessary to fit into a beauty pageant swimsuit contest to keep our town’s ranking higher than the Whistlers of the world in fluffy publications that focus on such fuzzily bracketed contests.
Basically, we can’t stop constructing because we have made it what our existence is about. Like a shark that must constantly move or die, if we quit refreshing our buildings and streets and other man-made amenities, our investment in the mountain lifestyle will die and go to Vail.
I’m talking no more trendy restaurants, edgy bars, counterintuitive arts — both the performing and the other kind that we can’t figure out but pretend to appreciate — no more trails and bike paths, no new ski lifts, bye-bye intense coffee shops and mass transportation with a slogan, no new varieties of desert flowers in the roundabout. Imagine how ordinary life would be without the refreshment and rejuvenation only cranes and jackhammers can bring.
We are never going to get rid of construction. We have tried a million plans to do it and none worked. We are not smarter than previous generations, so we can cease writing letters to the editor unveiling marvelous, never-before-considered plans for eliminating construction-related noise, dust and traffic congestion.
The only thing we can reasonably hope is to manage our perpetual construction machine which, when you consider that the menace of improvement is going on all the time, is nearly impossible to do, too.
It only appears we have a choice: We can require that work be performed ’round the clock to get it finished quickly or we can do it only during daylight hours and never on weekends so that we might get some sleep and enjoy strolls through the pedestrian malls on Sunday, drinking lattes without mud forming on the lids from dust landing on sugary foam escaping out of the sipping vent.
It sounds so simple, yet when it comes down to figuring out whether you love a good night’s sleep more than you hate sitting in traffic, the decision is anything but. More likely we must decide if we love our good night’s sleep more than we hate forcing our neighbors to sit in traffic, and vice versa. The ease with which any of us can make this call means that our only choice is no choice at all. We must let our elected officials settle these conflicts of interest.
In the end, I think we learn to accept construction like we do the weather. Some days we have sunshine and on others we have powder. So predictable are the afternoon thundershowers of July that we can easily plan around them and wait for the rainbows. It’s the lightening strikes we need to be wary of and make sure we are not above tree line when the first blast of thunder is heard. The slush, the hail and the occasional ice storms are unpleasant inconveniences we just have to be patient with.
This seems fair enough, but the one thing I cannot reconcile in this comparison is when our weather and the inevitability of construction tangle themselves so completely that one can no longer tell which the metaphor is. It happened this spring as backhoes and dump trucks seemingly spewed their diesel fumes on every corner of every block in town during our infamous mud season.
The combination of massive amounts of work performed at all hours of the day during that stretch of miserable spring weather pretty much ruined offseason. If we have to destroy a time of year around here, it seems like that would be the right choice. Nonetheless, I feel like I got cheated out of something dear. We can’t win.
Roger Marolt believes the slogan “build it and they will come” may have been unfairly categorized with good things, like puppies and chocolate. Email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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