Mel Blumenthal
Columnist
Snowmass Village, CO, Colorado

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June 5, 2012
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Mel Blumenthal: Catching up on Snowmass' offseason shenanigans

We finally arrived back home last week after 15 hours with our good friends at United. Due to their recent merger with Continental, the limited inventory of upgradeable seats is now spread over a much larger population, so don't expect an easy time upgrading even when using your accumulated frequent flyer miles.

Unfortunately the food sucks no matter what class you're in, so I suggest bringing snacks from home and a strong sleeping pill ... and by the way, whatever happened to all the young, beautiful stewardesses that used to populate the aisles of our major airlines?

If you're planning overseas travel, I recommend that you apply to the Feds for membership in the new Global Entry program. Membership allows you expedited re-entry to the U.S. without having to navigate the long lines at customs. Just present your re-entry receipt to the agent at the dedicated Global Entry station as everyone else in the long custom's lines stare in awe. No questions, inspections or pat-down, just a polite thank you and quick pass-through.

While traveling through Spain, France and Italy, we periodically checked CNN to see how things were going in the rest of the world. Most of the news, other than all the presidential campaign BS, centered on the sour economy throughout the world, but I was surprised that on the ground there were no visible signs of economic stress.

Everywhere we went the streets and shops were filled with international tourists carrying shopping bags loaded to the brim. Every high-end jewelry store, and every designer clothes, purse and shoe boutique was packed with Asians, who appeared to have piles of excess cash that they couldn't spend fast enough ... surprisingly, the Middle Eastern oil chieftains and their harems were spotted only infrequently.

And speaking of good tourist business, I'm pleased to report that despite the stories of recent economic scandals in the Vatican, it appears the Pope and his marketing team are still doing quite well. At 15 euros a head, the Vatican is raking in big bucks from hordes of the faithful and not-so-faithful who stand in long lines for hours to view of the treasures and attractions in and around the Vatican (the Vatican souvenir stands are doing brisk business).

Perhaps our Snowmass marketing gurus ought to plan a sit-down with the Pope and his marketing team? I think we could learn a thing or two from them concerning the best practices in marketing a town with a strong spiritual following.

While recuperating from jet lag back home, I've been spending a few hours catching up on some of the offseason shenanigans that often take place in Snowmass, when there are very few around to observe. Fast-forwarding through the online archives of this week's Town Council meeting, as well as several recent past council meetings and the local papers, I've uncovered a juicy story that several of our Snowmass and Pitkin County elected and appointed officials would prefer not see the light of day.

The story they just can't kill centers around the banning of man's best friend on the recently acquired Sky Mountain Park property and the north section of the Rim Trail, which for the past 20 years has been open to hikers and their dogs without any noticeable damage or complaints from nearby homeowners.

At the Town Council meeting on May 21, Gary Tennenbaum, Pitkin County land steward, and Hunt Walker, public works director, had to come to grips with the highly charged concerns of citizen complaints and a majority of the council members present concerning dog restrictions imposed on both open space areas, as well as elk hunting on the Droste property. Both officials were told in no uncertain terms that their unilaterally imposed restrictions were not acceptable and that the citizens of Snowmass were pissed at having been duped and misled into contributing $2 million to the Droste purchase.

To paraphrase Dale Will, Pitkin County's Open Space and Trails head honcho, in a propaganda video currently playing on the County's website, in the 21-year history of Pitkin County's Open Space program, this is the most ambitious project they've ever pulled off - and, in my opinion. and the opinion of many others, the biggest con job.

Tennenbaum and Walker's pleadings for mercy fell on deaf ears, and on top of it all, it appears Walker's often repeated excuse why the Rim Trail restriction could not be changed was not true. This is not the first of Walker's self-serving forays at the taxpayer's expense. Remember his ill-fated tennis bubble project last year at the Recreation Center, on which he wasted about $10,000 of taxpayer's money, or his self-promoted dog restrictions on the golf course trails a couple of years ago?

Putting all that bad karma aside, I think there is a viable compromise that can be worked out to the benefit of all parties.

First, it's a no-brainer that the north section of the Rim Trail should be reopened to man's best friend with the stricture that dogs must remain on leash and that all the dog poop must be bagged and packed out. If that stricture is not adhered to we should expect to lose the privilege. I think the principles of responsible citizenship, along with peer pressure from all those dog owners who use the trail, will be sufficient to ensure compliance.

As to Droste, it seems to be a small accommodation to dog owners to carve out one of the 16 new trails contemplated in the area for the use of hikers with dogs on leash. Hikers without dogs, bikers and horseback riders can have all the other 15 trails to themselves.

And for God's sake, no elk hunting in Sky Mountain Park.

We must have a reasonable conversation around a viable compromise, otherwise I anticipate a strong and noisy citizen movement afoot to pressure our elected representatives to retract their promised $2 million contribution.

I'm easy to find at secondview@earthlink.net.


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The Aspen Times Updated Jun 5, 2012 04:51PM Published Jun 5, 2012 04:47PM Copyright 2012 The Aspen Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.