Mel Blumenthal
Snowmass Village, CO, Colorado

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August 28, 2012
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Summer in Snowmass draws to a scenic close

My summer in Snowmass came to an end this past weekend when Riley, Jersey and I commenced our annual summer SUV trek back to Santa Monica via an overnight stop in St. George, Utah.

During the long road trip home, I reminisced over this season's highlights, which were capped off a week ago Tuesday when I was invited by Bob and Jack, a couple of Horse Ranch friends, to join them on a special hike in the

Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness. They'd been prepped the week before about a lesser known turnoff on the Crater Lake trail leading to a less traveled access trail to Pyramid Peak that they'd never taken before. Sworn to absolute secrecy as to the location of the turnoff, normally used by the serious local hiking community, and the surprises that lay ahead I tagged along while they identified every wildflower and rock formation along the way.

When we hit the right spot, made the turn and started the steep climb, I wasn't sure what made this trail so special until we got a ways up to a clearing with mind-blowing views of the Bells, Maroon Lake, Pyramid Peak and the surrounding landscape from angles I've never experienced before, as well as close-up views of expansive scree and talus rock fields and sightings of weasel, squirrel and pika.

Hopefully I'll retain most of what they passed on to me and when I return next summer I'll be able to revisit this solitary and secluded mountain lookout with its magnificent views ... that is provided I remember how to find that that little known turnoff on my own.

The hike was made even more spectacular by a day punctuated with a perfect blue sky and moderate temperatures and capped off by lunch on a couple of felled logs with my two friends in a secluded little spot with views of Maroon Lake and nature's splendor all around us.

Thinking back on that memorable day will likely jump start my quest for more such touches with nature on the road to my environmental enlightenment. Best of all, I had the privilege of doing it with a couple of great guys who know a hell of lot about the area's flora, fauna and geology and were willing to share it with a mere retired Hollywood entertainment attorney.

In the next couple of weeks, while I'm transitioning back to big city life and acclimating to the stresses of bumper-to-bumper traffic with nothing but cement and blacktop in my rear view mirror, it's likely that Related will close on its re-acquisition of Base Village so I thought it might be productive to revisit several questions posed by Bob and Carolyn Purvis back when Base Village construction halted and many of us were running around like Chicken Little shouting the sky is falling. Being optimistic, as was their nature, they calmly began thinking about the eventual end of the recession and what considerations should be explored in planning for the completion of Base Village.

Here are several questions they batted about at the time that I think deserve our consideration and discussion today:

Do you think that the currently approved Base Village plan is the right plan to complete taking into consideration Base Village in the context of the Village as a whole?

If your answer is yes, does the original rationale for the plan still form the basis for your opinion?

If no, was the plan flawed from the start or have circumstances changed and what are those changed circumstances?

If you're unsure as to your answer, what process employing what resources and participants would best serve to reconfirm, revise or reinvent the plan for the Village build-out, particularly the Base Village element? Specifically if you think we should revise or reinvent the plan, what perspectives should be considered and balanced in order to maximize the benefits that would accrue to our resort community?

For the purpose of context when answering these questions, remember that while multiple significant decisions were taken along the way, the most fundamental guiding principle underlying the Base Village plan was the aspirational decision by the community to become a self-sustaining resort community rather than just a friendly little neighborhood adjacent to the world-famous resort called Aspen.

During the lengthy original review process there was an "ah-ha" moment when the Related execs realized that the community wanted Base Village to be "just big enough" to meet its goal of becoming a self-sustaining resort community. The execs were in shock when they realized we didn't want it to be as big financially or physically as it could be.

Hopefully Dwayne Romero and his new team at Related will remember that hard learned lesson and that the community and Related will be able to approach future planning for the completion of Base Village as well as the redevelopment of the Mall and Snowmass Center down the road in a collegial and mutually beneficial manner always keeping in mind Bob and Carolyn's guidance, "just big enough."

As summer comes to an end I'm anxiously awaiting my return to town for what promises to be a beautiful fall capped off by the last big event of the season, an exciting, enlightening and entertaining Aspen Filmfest during the first week of October. The full program will be available online at on Sept. 8 and tickets go on sale at the Wheeler Box Office and online at on Sept. 12. Make your plans soon and don't miss it.

I'm back to my daily coffee haunt at 7th and Montana but as always I'm just a few keystrokes away at

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The Aspen Times Updated Aug 28, 2012 04:44PM Published Aug 28, 2012 04:43PM Copyright 2012 The Aspen Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.