Barbara Lucks
Snowmass Village, CO, Colorado

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May 15, 2012
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Barbara Lucks: Does anyone else remember the 'zipless [bleep!]'?

The zipless [bleep!] is a universal fantasy described some years back by writer Erica Jong. The zipless bleep is a world-shaking sexual encounter that proceeds seamlessly from ignition to ecstasy. Clothes magically dissolve. No stuck zippers, mismatched socks, stretch marks, farts or pimples. No regrets.

After reading the construction impact management plan for the Silvertree and Wildwood Hotels, along with attendant press and comments from my Snowmass buddies, all I could think of is the zipless bleep. Everyone's favorite wish ... and one that rarely comes true.

I do have a little bit of experience in construction management plans, both as a co-architect and as a victim. From 2002-2007, I was part of designing and managing a plan for a major Fanny Hill condominium renovation.

The planning took longer than the actual project, and I think that is why the project worked very well for the most part. We still had our surprises and we were still putting finishing touches on the residences just minutes in advance of holiday guest arrivals.

But to read the papers, nothing will go amiss with the hotel renovations. The Snowmass Sun quoted Joe Krabacher, attorney for the hotel owners, "We don't think we're going to run into any of the typical problems which go on." Clearly, one of the Smartest Guys in the Room! is immune from the pitfalls that beset nearly every construction project.

So I was not surprised by the absence of the two words I hoped to see in an article regarding concerns about timely completion. Those two words are "completion bond" (or equivalent). The article did not say, "Per the conditions of project approval, the construction groups have provided a completion bond in the amount of $XXXXXX." No, the article blathered on for hundreds of words about "stern warnings from the council to the developer to get the thing done by next ski season."

Someone, anyone, please tell me I'm wrong and there is a completion bond. But just like Obama's birth certificate, where's the paper?!

In view of the Base Village development waking nightmare, why would the town not require a completion bond? I have a few guesses:

• The matter never crossed anyone's mind. Consider supplemental oxygen for Council chambers.

• The construction groups may or may not bondable.

• The decision was made in one of "those" meetings.

Here's my short take. When anyone enlists their attorney to sell a hastily drafted plan, you can bet they have a plan, but it may or may not play out with any resemblance to the plan presented to the public.

Another item in the plan conspicuous by its absence is a dust mitigation. My spies in Snowmass advise me that the first trucks up Fanny Hill created walls of dust. To quote one informant, "The town is clearly unprepared to deal with dust issues." My informant regards the ineffective water truck that is parked on Fanny Hill as nothing but window dressing.

I was one of the victims of the 2006 Base Village dust-mitigation non-plan. I was already dealing with high-altitude issues, but the near constant assault of rolling clouds of dust accelerated my departure, which some may regard as a blessing. However, I was not the only one. I ran into numerous guests who could not understand why after years of coming to Snowmass for the summer, they just could not breathe in that particular summer.

So while the Smartest Guys in the Room may not give a flying [bleep] about the worker bees, you may want to think about the wisdom of subjecting conference planners and potential repeat guests to the Snowmass dust bowl.

There are options. One is magnesium chloride. It works great. It's all over selected BLM roads to manage the dust of oil field traffic. I realize the Forest Service may have more stringent regulations than the BLM, and mag chloride may be prohibited on Fanny Hill. And I'm sure there are lots of crunchy-granola Village people sanctimoniously rolling their eyes at my eco-insensitivity. To which I say, "Shut the [bleep] up!" Resort communities studded with vacant homes with snowmelt drives, squadrons of private planes and fleets of property management vehicles have an eco-footprint like Bigfoot's bigger brother.

Another option might be a temporary dust-free road. "Dust-free surface" is a requirement for non-paved commercial lots in many areas, involving proper grading, road base and a top layer of gravel. Easy enough to scrape off for ski season, and it even passes the crunchy-granola test.

Completion bonds and effective dust-mitigation plans may not be cheap, but they might be Snowmass' best insurance against choking off future summer and winter business.

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The Aspen Times Updated May 15, 2012 05:20PM Published May 15, 2012 05:18PM Copyright 2012 The Aspen Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.