Mel BlumenthalColumnistSnowmass Village, CO

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July 31, 2012
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Mel Blumenthal: Staying positive and sharing good news

Sorry Roger, but after reading your ode to negativity last week I've searched my mind and soul to find any remnants of the kind of dark thoughts that still appear to be haunting your psyche after all these years ... fortunately I came up dry.From what I've gleaned over the past seven decades, it's much healthier and a hell of a lot more productive to maintain a positive outlook whenever possible. I imagine that is one of many attributes that distinguishes me from you but I do respect your point of view, I just don't agree with it.That being said I'll remain a cheerleader and fluff up my pom-poms and increase the volume of my megaphone to continue celebrating the wonderful life we all have in this little piece of paradise and work collegially to improve that which needs improvement.My recommendation, try a little positive thinking for a couple of weeks. It's not only good for reducing your high levels of stress, but it just might reduce the stress levels of those who cross your path.As we approach the closing date of Related's recent re-acquisition of Base Village I've been giving some thought as to where we might want to see the project go from here. In this connection I was reminded by a friend of a document prepared for the Citizens For Snowmass back in 2003 titled "Thoughts, Guidance and Way Forward" pertaining to Skico's original Base Village proposal. This document provided strategic context for the group's debates at that time but much of it is still relevant to our upcoming planning for the completion of Base Village as now tempered by all that has already been built.In order to set the stage for our upcoming discussions and deliberations. I'd like to paraphrase several of the thoughts that formed the basis of this document.Isn't there an alternative to substantial new development at Base Village? The answer may be yes, but only if we are willing to change our Village Aspiration from successful resort community to something like a pleasant neighborhood adjacent to a world-famous resort called Aspen, where our commercial core consists of a downsized group of merchants offering mainly satellite, day-skier services and a relatively unimproved mountain infrastructure.A critical mass of properly tenanted, well-managed and vibrant commercial core is widely seen as a necessary component for a self-sufficient, successful mountain resort. Reaching an agreement concerning the preferred balance between the economic vitality and quality of life is a difficult matter. Our Village will be successful only if we can agree what it takes to achieve this balance. In reality it's always about both one's quality of life and doing what it takes to earn it.Sustaining the quality of life that we have come to prize is not likely to occur without tradeoffs as necessary to ensure economic vitality. To the extent we need or desire amenities such as parks, pools, trails, free local transit and affordable employee housing, we must create and sustain a community that competes and wins versus other competitive resort communities. Our competitors have added lodging capacity, commercial vitality, on-mountain infrastructure and marketing efforts ... It's a competitive world and from my viewpoint we need to continue competing.While many of us desire Base Village to be big enough to ensure our Village's success, it should not be as big as it could be physically or financially ... it should be JUST big enough and it must be sensibly integrated within the rest of the Village as a whole.Since the time these thoughts were originally memorialized a lot has already been built in Base Village in an attempt to begin achieving the goals and desires expressed above, for which a slim majority in the Village originally voted their support.As we soon begin the debate as to where we go from here, it's not feasible in my opinion to again consider the alternatives that were under consideration back in 2003. For example, too much has already been completed for us now to decide to just remain a quiet bedroom community with a world-class ski mountain. We now have a four-star Viceroy resort hotel, a soon to be completed and totally refurbished four star Westin Snowmass Resort, Wildwood Snowmass and Snowmass Conference Center, the Tree House Children's Center and multi-millions of dollars already invested in on-mountain infrastructure improvements as well as our Village infrastructure. As we get back into the thick of planning discussions with Related, the Town Council will assume the mantle of leadership instituting a process that must be fully transparent and that invites and encourages the entire community, as well as all Village commercial operators, to participate in the debate and decision making process. As for me, I can't wait.As promised in my last column and with further apologies to my stable mate, there is more upbeat news to report from the recent part-time residents summer meeting. David Perry, executive vice president of the Ski Company, outlined SkiCo's recently announced $6 million investment to harvest methane emissions from a coal mine in Somerset, Colo. and convert it into renewable energy which will go into our local electric grid. According to SkiCo's estimates this project will offset 100 percent of their energy consumption and will eliminate more than three times their annual carbon emissions. And on top of it all, this project can be replicated and most likely will be embraced by other towns, communities and snow dependent resorts across the West.This is perhaps the most significant environmental project undertaken to date by SkiCo and they are to be congratulated by all of us for their commitment of manpower, creative problem solving and economic resources to counter the devastating impact of global climate change.You can find me most days cheerleading at Fuel and when not there you can reach me a secondview@earthlink.net.


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The Aspen Times Updated Jul 31, 2012 06:10PM Published Jul 31, 2012 06:09PM Copyright 2012 The Aspen Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.