Mel BlumenthalColumnistSnowmass Village, CO, Colorado

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June 19, 2012
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Mel Blumenthal: A trip around the issues of the day in Snowmass

As this edition of the Sun goes to press, Riley, Jersey and I are preparing for our annual summer road trip to Snowmass this weekend. Paulette, as usual, will arrive a few days later via United. (By the way, has anyone noticed the huge increase in United's summer airfares as well as the havoc in customer service resulting from their merger with Continental ... probably due to redirecting all their resources to their new and improved snack baskets?)Since my submission deadline did not allow me to wait for the outcome of several contentious issues on Monday's Town Council agenda, I'll peer into my crystal ball and attempt to predict where they came out or, better yet, where they should have come out.The first issue relates to Jim Horowitz and Jazz Aspen Snowmass' annual appeal to our Town Council for more sponsorship dollars. Above and beyond the $150,000 contribution the Town already gives them, as well as free rent on Town Park facilities and other miscellaneous gifts of service and safety personnel, they want what amounts to an additional $35,000 to $50,000.Our elected representatives and some members of our marketing board got misty eyed when Horowitz made his appeal, but the marketing board doesn't want the additional money to come out of their budget, and the Town staff doesn't want it to come out of the general fund.Some of the new and apparently some of the old board members don't remember that the Town Council recently made it clear that although the marketing board historically made all its own line item budget decisions, in order to prevent the politicization of marketing dollar expenditures derived from the restricted marketing tax, the Town Council has now changed its mind and doesn't like that hands-off policy any longer ... wonder why?For those who religiously adhere to the old adage "follow the money to determine who is in control," it appears that Town Council is now in control and able to spend marketing dollars on whatever it likes.If the Council decided to follow through on its desire to appease Horowitz, I bet they took the money out of the marketing budget in order to protect their general fund piggy bank for some of their other pet projects. Sorry marketing board, in case you thought you did, you really don't have any control over your budget.By the way who's been getting all the free Jazz patron tickets given to the Town in exchange for our taxpayers' contributions to the annual Labor Day weekend event? All those on the Town's freebie list raise your hands.The next contentious issue relates to the desire of Councilman Wilkinson and Hunt Walker, our public works director, to ban dogs wherever they can in the Village, even going so far as misleading the public in order to get their way.Fortunately I foresee saner heads working out a reasonable compromise that would allow dogs on leash to return to the north section of the Rim trail where they have been for at least the past 20 years and as is currently the case on the south section without any apparent harm to the native flora and fauna. As to Sky Mountain Park, we'll capitulate to the dog ban because no self-respecting dog owner wants to subject man's best friend to the hot and dry water-free trails that will be constructed on the Droste property. But we should tell our beloved Pitkin County partners to stop trying to blackmail us into banning our dogs on Snowmass Village-owned land that ultimately may connect to the new Droste trail system. Try a simple signage plan that alerts the public that no dogs are allowed beyond the entrance to Sky Mountain Park, and if the county commissioners don't trust their constituents to do the right thing, they can always deploy a fleet of low-flying and armed helicopters to fire warning shots at any who might attempt to go where they should not.And finally as to the issue of free bus service between Snowmass, Woody Creek and Aspen, it seems a reasonable compromise can be reached between the county, Aspen and Snowmass to continue such service year-round with all three entities sharing the cost, except during the summer when Snowmass would reluctantly agree to pick up the full tab until such time, probably by 2016, as transportation tax revenues return to healthier levels and at which point all three entities would share the costs of the free bus service year-round.I'll bet that was one hell of a Town Council meeting. Hopefully my predictions came true.On our town's upcoming special event calendar: All Snowmass Village property owners are invited to the part-time residents annual summer meeting on Friday, July 6, from 1 to 5 p.m. in Town Council Chambers, followed by a reception hosted by and at the Timbers Club from 5 to 7 p.m. Presenters, topics and Q&A include: Mayor Boineau and Town Manager Russ Forrest delivering the opening remarks and giving an update on the state of the Village; Skico's executive vice president David Perry will review summer on-mountain activities; John Curnow, general manager of the new Westin Snowmass Resort, Wildwood Snowmass Lodge & the Conference Center, will review all the new and exciting things ahead for these properties when they open for business next ski season; Susan Hamley, director of Snowmass Tourism, will review summer events, marketing and the Ice Age Discovery; Hugh Templeman, Viceroy general manager, will review the upcoming summer events schedule at the Hotel; and last but perhaps the most eagerly awaited presentation will be the Base Village update by Dwayne Romero, president of Related Colorado, and Mike Tande and Jim DeFrancia representing Lowe Enterprises.This is a not-to-be-missed event. Be there, be on time, be informed.As usual, I'll be hanging out at Fuel this summer, but you can also reach me at

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The Aspen Times Updated Jun 19, 2012 06:17PM Published Jun 19, 2012 06:15PM Copyright 2012 The Aspen Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.