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Growth in Allenspark
You may have missed the article in the Longmont Times-Call on September 4, 1994. The headline was “Mountain shoppers out in the no-zone, residents piqued on the Peak-to-Peak Highway.” Cute, huh?
Matt Reed, the writer of the piece, presented the opinions of several residents, one of whom, Dave Fausset, said he would like “a mid-range restaurant and maybe a small bank branch, a barber shop or an honest-to-goodness service station.” He’s also quoted as saying, “We have a number of people up here who are interested in employment but who don’t want to spend $20 a day to commute to Longmont or Boulder. The county really seems to be on a kick of ‘Let’s make it difficult for them.’ They want to make this Boulder’s park.”
Another allowed as how Allenspark “is going to be dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century.”
Now you’ve gone too far. I know several people up here who aren’t all that happy about having been dragged into the 20th century, much less the 21st.
I have been watching this place for almost 55 years and I’ve seen a large number of people come and go. At the moment we may have 500 or so living here full-time, according to our post-master. Many come thinking they can make a good living, and the fact is you can make a living, but you have to give up some things, and you have to work your tail off. I’ve seen loads of people commute over the years but eventually almost all of them buy a place down below; commuting from Allenspark is just too damn much work, hassle and danger.
For a number of years we had an honest-to-goodness service station here. It was run by Mr. McCollister and he could fix just about any car or truck. I filled the glass cylinders by pumping the handle and then let the gasoline slowly drain, gurgling, from the glass tower into the car, watching the little propeller spin in the glass globe on the front, assuring us that gas was flowing. But times have changed. Mr. Mac is gone and so are the simple days with simple cars. Now you need a computer to attach to the car’s computer and a big stock of parts and a parts delivery service. Allenspark doesn’t need that; we take our new cars to specialists, and cars are more reliable and require less maintenance. They’re also more expensive. We no longer trust them to shade-tree mechanics, which is all Allenspark has ever been able to support.
There was actually talk about a branch bank about 20 years ago. The idea was laughed out of town. And a barber? Boy, would he have gone broke in a hurry 25 years ago. I still see quite a few pony tails around town; Phil Stern hasn’t been to a barber in ten years. A barber in Allenspark would quickly starve, even if he specialized in beards. As for restaurants, the ones we have seem to be doing okay. True, they have changed hands numerous times over the years, but we always seem to have a place to get a decent meal. Of course the Fawn Brook Inn is well above mid-range. But a Denny’s? I don’t think so. Not in my lifetime, anyway. Or yours.
Maybe, on our way to Estes Park to do our banking or get a haircut, we should have a closer look at what Larimer County has done. Look at that big, ugly house nestled on less than an acre in the curve just below Charlie Baker’s place, where they destroyed a rock cut to make a driveway, and where the horses they keep will quickly erode the hill. Look at Estes Park, where you can buy salt water taffy, have Your Name in Headlines or sit in a bar with a bunch of Harley riders. You can pick up your auto parts and go next door to arrange your funeral. Is that really what you want in Allenspark?
Mr. Fausset’s point is that Boulder County is making zoning and land use decisions that make it difficult to have unrestrained growth. He’s correct, and I thank the Almighty and Boulder County, its commissioners and voters.
If and when we have a genuine need, as we someday may, for businesses which support the growing number of retirees, then Boulder County will allow it, in a limited way. But the county’s building and zoning restrictions which make unlimited growth impossible are a blessing, not a curse. Many years ago Estes Park was a nice little village. Sort of like Allenspark.
© 1985 – 2003, David E. Steiner
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