A housing shortage
forces residents into temporary accommodations, ranging from tepees to
lean-tos. Penny Curtis, who works at the Chamber of Commerce, lost her lease
this summer, so she and her family of three are now living in a dog sledder's
cabin without running water or electricity.
run $160 a month, and 8-by-36-foot trailers rent for $200 a month. More and
more leases are being written to expire Dec. 15, when landlords can start
taking advantage of holiday visitors at lucrative day rates. "I had to move
six times in three years—ridiculous," says John Pond, the man who left
Aspen for Crested Butte.
Even moving to
outlying areas is no answer for seekers of quiet. For example, in 1961 Dave and
Sharon Farny opened a mountaineering camp for boys at Ash-croft, 10 miles
outside Aspen. Soon the Pitkin Iron Co. began working an open-pit mine nearby.
Says Mrs. Farny: "Dynamite blasts rocked the canyon, trucks roared by day
and night kicking up enough dust to kill some aspen trees and discourage
friends from visiting us after dark." Last year the Farnys moved their
mountaineering camp 200 miles to Telluride, Colo.
Pitkin Iron has
paved its access road and is now erecting a trailer camp for its truckers. The
camp will be complemented by a sewage plant that flows into Castle Creek, the
Aspen water supply. The town of Aspen has lost a preliminary bid in federal
court to enjoin Pitkin Iron from operating the sewage plant and is now
appealing. Steward Mace, who runs dogsled trips from the Toklat Lodge near the
plant site, says: "The judge told us that you can't stop someone from
polluting the water until he actually pollutes it."
Of course, not all
developers are having it their way, for some civic officials and several local
ecology groups are working to implement tight zoning and to preserve open
spaces. George Stranahan, head of the Aspen Physics Institute, recently outbid
a commercial developer for 570 vulnerable acres in the Lenado area and he plans
"to keep the land just the way I found it, undeveloped."
Thompson, the author of Hell's Angels and editor of the acerbic Aspen
Wallposter, scorns friends who flee town and suggests they stay to fight it out
politically. "Read The Population Bomb," he says. "How far can you
run? And for how long? Aspen may not be the best place to live, but the ugly
truth is that we are all running out of better alternatives."
Last fall Thompson
and his friends fell just six votes short of electing Joe Edwards as mayor on a
Save Aspen platform. This fall Thompson plans to fight the developers by
running for sheriff of local Pitkin County: "Those comic-strip speculators
would stay away if they knew they had me to contend with," he says.
Thompson is trying to persuade like-minded friends to run for other
surge of ecological consciousness is influencing some Aspen entrepreneurs. For
example, there is Aspen-Wildcat, a rising complex that will accommodate 24,000
new residents over the next 15 years. An official says: "Our advertising
program will reflect the company philosophy of conservation. All publications
will softly treat the subject through the use of quality nature photography and
subtle poetic copy." But will this be enough for people who are angry
enough to blow up quaint Dutch windmills?