Letter: Aspen needs a Battlement Mesa
I was taken aback to see a representative of Aspen Ski Co. tout the fact they are raising wages to slightly above minimum wage and providing 600 beds for workers. Big deal.
Apparently, they do not see the multitude of workers passing through Glenwood Springs daily. It is no surprise to anyone that wage earners cannot afford to live near Aspen, or Vail.
How does this tie to Battlement Mesa? In the 1970s, two visionary companies realized they needed to provide a community for employees and their families. Believe it or not, one of those companies was ofttimes hated Black Sunday Exxon who along with Tosco Corp. spent $100 million to provide the infrastructure for a community that was intended to support an oil shale industry that never materialized.
The point is, the two companies realized the need and stepped up because it was in their financial and social interest. Has the ski industry and privileged part-timers in Aspen and Vail accepted a comparable responsibility? No.
What are they waiting for? Do they think government will bail them out? Or do they just not care? What if they had to pay the actual monetary and social cost their workers and communities away from the ski towns are paying to get them to their jobs? To me, there is an ultimate irony.
The liberal societies in ski towns think people need to be taken care of. Why don’t you take care of those that are serving your needs? Your industry has changed the culture of our region. You have a chance to make it a positive change. Wouldn’t it be great if you had workers you did not have to entice to stay for an entire ski season by giving a $1 per hour raise?
How about enticing families that want to become permanent residents and raise their children here? If you provide the infrastructure, developers and businesses will come. You could raise the money through bond issues. Think of the PR benefits.