Marolt: Going, going, gone — to Aspen!

Roger Marolt
Cluster Phobic
Roger Marolt

Let’s take a poll of Aspenities to see how often they get out to Snowmass Village. My guess is that it’s not very many and not very often. I know lots of Aspenites who have visited the village less than once in a lifetime. Some brag they have never been here.

The reason Aspenites most likely visit Snowmass Village, if they do, is because of the Thursday evening free summer-concert series. Fannies on Fanny is our marquee event. About the only way to get to it is by taking the bus, and the only way to get from the bus stop to the music venue is by walking through our mall, such as it is. Weirdly enough, Aspenites I know always want to meet by the clock tower. The “tower” is only about half as tall as the Viceroy Hotel. It’s the only landmark they know here. Aspen has the famous Mill Street fountain for kids to play in. Maybe we should hang some ropes from the “tower” for kids to climb, swing and rappel on. We could probably make it semi-safe.

Other than this, Aspenites just plain don’t come out here. Ask an Aspenite what the skiing is like out here. I dare you. Aspenites believe the only restaurant in the village is Il Pogio, and it’s hard to argue. They think lift-served mountain biking is for wussies. Our golf course is like an overpriced round of putt-putt. And many are under the impression that there just isn’t much to do here. I doubt the proposed mountain-coaster quasi-amusement-park ride is going to change anyone’s mind.

What I’m leading up to is a very important, hard question we village people need to ask ourselves. Brace yourselves: What does Basalt have that we don’t? Try not to blush when you try to answer.

You can’t deny it; Basalt probably has at least 100 Aspenites visiting for every one that we get. Ditto that for El Jebel and Carbondale. Glenwood, of course, crushes us in this regard, but it has Wal-Mart, Target and car dealerships, so the answer is obvious. But what about those podunk towns between here and there that seem to have nothing more than we do to offer visitors yet somehow do? Is parking really that difficult in the village? Don’t answer that.

It’s really not fair. Lots of us go to Aspen frequently for entertainment, dining and shopping. Many of us work there all the time or at least occasionally. We ski there. We ride our bikes there. We dwell there, just like the expensive urban designers intended. Aspen has a lot to offer, so no big surprise. But who turned Owl Creek Road into a one-way street? You would think the good people of Aspen would reciprocate just a little to keep both lanes flowing in both directions.

OK, screw them! They’re still mad that we seceded and are hell-bent on punishing us. They won’t be happy until we succumb to their isolating economic sanctions and erase our city limits under duress to become Snowmass at Aspen once again. That might have been our peak.

You know, when I think about it, I come up with a conspiracy theory with the money trail leading back to Aspen Skiing Co. I mean, when we were just an unincorporated ski-bum settlement, Skico had to pay for all its advertising by itself, and all the shops, hotels and restaurants here benefited from it. Skico may be greedy, manipulative and indifferent, but it is not stupid. It recognized this fair arrangement, played the independence card and got us to buy into the idea that we needed to be our own town. We did, and now we pay for all of Skico’s advertising and get very little out of it. Now that it is nowhere near fair, of course Skico is happy.

Where was I going with this? Oh yeah; the good people of Aspen, our wicked neighbors to the east, have shunned us. Who cares? They rely on us for offseason, and we rely on them for nothing. If worse ever actually comes to worst and the residents of both towns end up with no money to spend, we’ll not even notice a difference.

Here’s the thing, though: If we can’t even get people who live in Aspen to drive the 8 miles over a beautiful country road — past meadows filled with elk and coyotes, owls and eagles nesting in the trees, an occasional moose getting run over by a Range Rover — how do we expect to get tourists to come?

Roger Marolt knows Snowmass Village has a lot going for it but is sorry that it keeps moving onward to Aspen. Email