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Ps & Qs: Born in Aspen, but we still need to work for a living

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Oh, my gods, did you hear Emmanuel Macron’s speech?! I should have guessed! This whole ordeal of having a president with the ego of a small child, and a slack-ass nanny of a congress, has all been a plot to make us fall for the first responder on the scene —  the president of France. The French are trying to take over America: they want our broken healthcare system, our two-week paid vacations, and our 50-hours-a-week-worked-but-40-paid jobs!

Here in Carbondale, we’re seeing help wanted signs around town (and not just that old, sticky one that lives in the front window of the Pour House.) A shortage of labor at the minimum wage level can be a good thing because it can bump up pay levels for all residents, (just like a rising tide raises all boats) and then the income is poured right back into local businesses. Or, it can mean we’re going down the drain: no plumbers, no merchants, no artisans, just a bunch of wealthy ghouls perusing art galleries.

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My uncle says money is like manure; it works better if you spread it around. Uncle Charlie is the reason I am able to live in the valley where I was born, even though land sharks have forced a lot of locals out of the water. (There are still a few dinghies and san-pans floating around, but it’s hard to see them in between all the yachts.) I feel lucky to live here, but I’m not going to lie — sometimes I daydream about selling out and moving to Pango Pango, especially when I’m trying to turn left onto Highway 133.

I live in Satank, which is a lawless little suburb of Carbondale located in unincorporated Garfield County. The beauty of Satank is that we’re not in town, but we can walk there in twenty minutes. Now, Red Hill Lofts, LLC (APEHI is the sole member of the company) is planning to build employee housing on Dolores Way, which is currently the only way to access Satank. APEHI stands for Aspen Pitkin Employee Housing Inc. No doubt the land is more affordable than anything in Aspen, and with the bus stop right there it makes sense for commuting workers, but the intersection of Dolores Way and Highway 133 is in Garfield County, not Pitkin, and it’s maxed.

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By “maxed” I mean that intersection is a deathtrap. With all the commercial and residential traffic, plus the Community School drop off/pick up traffic twice a day, (those are your kids!) and the ambiguous section of bike/pedestrian path on both sides of the highway, it is like being teleported to Kathmandu for a few minutes and then- once safely through the intersection- returning to small mountain town traffic. We Satankers have been waving our arms and yelling about this for years, but we have failed to garner the attention of the lifeguards, i.e., the powers that be: Town of Carbondale, CDOT, RFTA. No one can agree on a plan for a safe, functional intersection, and now APEHI wants to add countless commuters to the chaos. That intersection needs more traffic like Ajax après-ski needs another grandma in glitter and spandex.

Aspen continues to develop and add more premium-priced square footage inside the city limits; of course they have traffic problems. “The manual for holes is: when you are in one, stop digging.” – Pat Hunter.

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We cannot allow them to cast off their housing crisis on us just because our real estate prices are lower. Maybe it’s time for Aspen to build compact, high-rise employee housing instead of spacious, but empty most of the year, townhomes; eight to ten story buildings with underground parking, emergency stairwells, and rooftop gardens to grow vegetables, herbs, and edible grasses.

We all know that would go over like a turd in the tub, but isn’t it worth a little stink in your own bath to have locally housed employees? Carbondale needs affordable housing for our own employees to ensure we remain vibrant and functional, instead of turning into an amusement town full of empty homes with service industry workers that commute more than an hour each way. Of course, we could use the time to practice our French…

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Jeannie loves living in Satank, but she would consider moving back to Aspen if there was another bust like the one in 1893.

Editor’s note: For more information about the proposed development and APEHI — not to be confused with the Aspen Pitkin County Housing Authority — visit Proposed Red Hill Lofts.

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