Tony Vagneur: Aspen has only to blame the atmosphere of the amusement parks

As the wheels turn, we get into the Christmas rush with our hands on the accelerator and hopefully the train of events that have come from it has been headed in the right direction.

The Pandora expansion has become official, in large part thanks to the efforts of my friend, Bruce Etkin, who knows how to lead a project or two. And as we celebrated this step into the future on the world’s best ski mountain, we worried if it would ever snow. Skico president Mike Kaplan apparently found Mother Nature’s phone number, taped under a desk drawer by former DRC President Brown, and we received piles of wet and durable winter snow just in time for the opening of Buttermilk and Highlands. Speak of flawless success to a breathtaking crowd, on both counts.

With these hidden issues, the appearance of the acronym STR (short term rentals) grabbed the headlines, along with the word “mitigation,” bringing us to the tip of several icebergs floating in the middle of Aspen and Pitkin County. Businesses are in dire need of employees, and there are workers who would love to work, almost anywhere in the area, but cannot find a place to live within hours of New Castle, Silt, Rifle. or even as far as Grand Jonction.

Years ago, a Fortune 500 company I worked for had a multi-million dollar contract with Saudi Arabia to operate its solid waste systems. We took a lot of our own managers there to fulfill the contract, but most of the workers, actually for all of Saudi Arabia, were imported from Sri Lanka. At the time, I found this to be quite interesting, unusual, and sort of insanely elitist, not looking into the 40s until 2021 Aspen.

It was around 1968 when two employees of my family’s solid waste company in Aspen bought a mobile home in a basalt. Apparently ahead of their time, it was a clever move on their part; the price was right, it was new, but there was great consternation within the management of the company as to how these two guys, both esteemed and longtime employees, were ever going to surrender at work every day, let alone on time. The remainder of the 10-man crew lived in or near Aspen.

During the day, there were rentals throughout town, and the change of seasons resulted in the predictable housing shuffle each spring and fall. Much like it happens in a college town (wait, doesn’t Aspen State Teacher’s College have a place somewhere here?), Word would be in bars and restaurants, so and so is looking for a roommate, these guys on Durant are moving this spring. The chatter traveled quickly and in the end it generally worked out for the best.

The second floor of the Aspen Block building had rooms and suites for rent, where high school friends lived and, later, co-workers. A few of our teachers lived in the Bowman Building. There were rooms available above the Paragon, above the Sardy hardware store, on the second floor of the Wheeler Opera House, not to mention the many houses that would rent a single room or those that would rent the entire house to a group of young people. local.

The Aspen workers were a reasonably tight clique; almost everyone knew everyone, knew where this or that was partying or hanging out, and if you needed to find someone, you could start the walk around the waterholes in the city. Check the pub, must be onion, no waiting, across the street from Guido. No, he’s home, OK, we’ll find him. Or her.

It was kind of a radar, especially on Friday nights, to find out where you wanted to go out. Looking for a specific woman, you probably knew where to find her. Need someone to replace you on the job, you would know where to find the probable suspects.

It’s changed. Go to Two Rivers in Basalt for breakfast or lunch and see more Aspen locals in an hour than you might see on the streets of Aspen all day.

Aspen cannot survive without a local workforce that lives here. People who do not ski cannot sell ski equipment, ditto for road or mountain bikes, or ski patrol the mountains. Someone’s making themselves sick, you can’t wait for a replacement to come in from Glenwood or Rifle. The hospital was calling me overnight for emergency blood – I would be there in 10 to 15 minutes.

And you can’t ask a guy walking down the street in a Zegna or Prada costume if he has jumper cables or can give you a boost. The city is not the same.

City or county, we can’t blame anyone but ourselves. We made it too easy to develop and made living here feel like having a ticket to an amusement park. It’s time to buckle up.

Tony Vagneur writes here on Saturdays and welcomes your comments to [email protected].

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