I LOVE ASPEN. While AspenSpin is usually focused on the good times, I want to share a few frustrations about Fat City. There are some burrs under my saddle. I'm going to Micro manage Aspen for about 1000 words, just to clear the air. It's been a mediocre ski season and I feel the need to get a few things off my chest. I don't want to be a whiner, so rather than write a letter to the editor ...or maybe bi-atch slap someone in public I will share my observations here on AspenSpin....where no one really cares about it.
I'm not sour grapes, but my shrink is dead..... and... here goes.
ASPEN CHAMBER RESORT ASSOCIATION. What a bunch of morons. Sure, individually they are probably good people...but collectively the leaders of this organization can't stop embarrassing themselves. The bureaucracy is deafening. According to their own website they are "dedicated to supporting businesses and enhancing the visitor experience". As an outsider looking in...they support SOME businesses...the one's they consider worthy and that are owned by their cronies. What about the other ones...the non-cronies? As we all know...for most members...the discounted ski passes are the most important benefit. ACRA receives an extra $1 million annually for their marketing budget from the new lodging tax...but we have yet to see a creative, well constructed marketing campaign. What's our brand? Aspen: where the rich people go". The latest flap with the American Chamber of Commerce...who doesn't believe in climate change...is typical. ACRA sent out a survey of their members to determine whether or not to boycott the national organization....we were told 11% of the the surveys were answered and the question was so one-sided that it could only be answered one way. Now they face a P.R. SNAFU no matter what. What can you expect from people who work 9-5 (ooops 10-3.30..but no one is counting). The Christmas lighting survey is next.
WAGNER PARK. What a beautiful centerpiece to our town. Is it a park ..or an event space? The park gets a ton of use for sports, families, dogs etc. That is when it's open and not fenced-off by the unsightly plastic barriers . Wagner Park is still recovering physically from Snow Polo that was held there 2 years ago. Luckily that event got moved to the more appropriate Marolt Open space. Unfortunately the rugger-fest took place in the rain..which led to 2 months of closure mid-Sept through Nov. Now the park has been closed, from mid-March. They need to prep for Food and Wine which is in June. Will Wagner Park be closed through June? I dunno --will it? HEY...let's keep the open spaces...open. Also, I'm a dog lover, but those masters who "forget to pick up" are going to ruin it for all of us.
JOHN DENVER SANCTUARY and RIO GRANDE TRAIL. This is one of my favorite places in Aspen. However it's been under construction for a year or more. Huge bulldozers and construction debris have inhabited this usually pristine setting for more than a year. Good news.... another $1.4 million was just earmarked for the area to complete the job..hopefully. At least the signs that say "trail closed for Summer" don't need to be replaced...they're still up there from last year. The Theatre Aspen site is clearly a debacle....it looks worse than a third world country over there. The uncovered steel frame and the blowing white tarpaulin look horrible next to the Rio Grande Trail. Stay classy, Theatre Aspen...always be creepin'.
ASPEN SKIING COMPANY. I know it's BIG biz and its a private company and all. I also know that Aspen is a company town, but, HEY i'm a customer. I surely don't want to get banned from the ski hills...but WTF?? Why do they have such a thin skin??? They cannot accept critisim in any form, even if it's constructive. Last year they banned the Aspen Daily News from their properties. Last Fall, a woman in the check out line at City Market made a negative comment about the poor early season conditions. That inncident blew up into a front page story (slow news day, i guess) because one top Ski Co. Exec made a public statement about locals always complaining. HELLO...it's America...non-employees are entitled to an opinion. And why are they such bullies??? They fired Dan Sheridan for singing a song about rich people. You're fired!!! They fired (and banned) Lee Mulcahy (maybe he deserved it for his actions?)...but when it was all said and done...his points about wages and labor were valid and Ski Co. had to adjust their policies. I used to like it when Ski Co. focused on up-hill transportation and mountain management. Now they have their tentacles on almost every aspect of Aspen. Food and bev, lodging , event plannng, retail, and even fishing and Yoga. I guess we're lucky...it could be Vail.
NON-PROFITS. Hey, I think philanthropy is awesome. I love to "give back" both with my time and my money....but really, how many non-profits are based in our Valley? More than 400 is my guess, and new ones are popping up every day. Everybody's a non-profit now. Many of Aspen's NPO's do fantastic work helping less fortunate people, sick kids, the environment, wildlife, the mountains, rivers and streams and so on. Many of them do not. They collect contributions which are than converted to salaries and overhead and foolish spending. Many of the NPO's are duplicitous in their missions. Take a look at Robin Hood Foundation in NYC. 100% of the monies collected are used to do good deeds. All the overhead and costs are underwritten by the Robin Hood Board. I hold them out as a role model for local charities.
F.A.R. (floor area ratio) HO's I understand...some people view Aspen as a business opportunity on which they can capitalize. Others simply see it as a wonderful place to visit or live, work and play. I get it ...greed is good. I have no problem with change and controlled growth. Replacing some of the dumpy 60's style buildings is not a negative in my viewpoint. But building lot-line to lot-line??... with no setbacks...maximizing every inch. Our town is losing character and individuality...soon the whole core will look homogeneous. Take a ride down I-70...around mile marker 180 for an example. Big, square buildings with unoccupied penthouses.
SELECTIVE ENFORCEMENT. Aspen is a very complex society with a highly nuanced social hierarchy. There are lots of great people...and lots of bogarts. Locals wear their years in Aspen like a badge of honor. Statements like "I've been here for 30 years" or "I came in the 60's" are repeated over and over. Tourists bring their crap from the cities and act like they own the place. That's all cool...but The City of Aspen enacts their laws and policies for a reason. The problem is...the rules only seem to apply to some people. The idling law... is just one good example. The beater Ford pick-up truck with the broom in the back can idle...while the Range Rover with Florida plates can't. There are many other examples of selective enforcement. If you're going to have rules...enforce them equally for everyone.
NUFF SAID. I've gone over my budget of 1000 words..and I feel the need to ski. Day #98.