Mel Blumenthal
Snowmass Village, CO, Colorado

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December 31, 2012
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Mel Blumenthal: Make your voice heard on Base Village

The Blumenthal clan has made it to 2013 relatively unscathed and fortunately most of us, except the warm weather contingent who stayed beachside in Southern California, were able to spend the holidays in Snowmass.

Our adult children, their spouses and our grandchildren presented me with their Village wish list for next year, so I'm taking this opportunity to pass it along to the powers that be for consideration when they begin planning the completion of Base Village and the renovation of the Mall and Snowmass Center.

At the top of the list is some semblance of a nightlife for young adults and kids in the Village. They tell me that Base Village is still a ghost town after sunset. They're hoping for a few vibrant night spots including a karaoke bar, a movie theater, bowling alley and game arcade. My grandkids are looking for a sledding hill on the mountain as well as the promised ice rink with rental skates at the Mall. My daughter-in-law is hoping for a few more benches off the Elk Camp Gondola so that she has a place to strap on her snowboard ... she rides goofy style.

Nothing on this list seems beyond reason, so I told them the powers that be will likely attend to all of it before the start of next ski season. What are the chances I won't be embarrassed in front of my family for going out on a limb and promising that which I have no power to deliver?

On another optimistic note, last week the Citizens for Snowmass and the Part-Time Residents Advisory Board hosted a presentation by Related to a full house of part-time and full-time residents eager to hear Related Colorado's president, Dwayne Romero, give an update on all that Related has done since reacquiring Base Village last fall. Much of that update already has been discussed in the local press so I won't bother to repeat it here but of greater importance was the Q-and-A session during which Related solicited comments and input from those in attendance as to what they thought of the sparse and general plans that Dwayne laid out and what they would like to see in Base Village, the Mall and Snowmass Center as the plans for upgrading and completing those resort and commercial nodes begin moving forward.

As opposed to Related's speculative stance during its first go-around with Base Village, it's now clear following the economic tsunami that Related is taking a very conservative market-driven stance as to what its next steps will be. However, it appeared that many in attendance want to see Related take a bit more risk and move forward more expeditiously with the completion of many of the elements included in the originally approved Base Village plans.

Having become a lot more risk-averse since losing Base Village through foreclosure a year or so ago, it appears Related's concentration is focused solely on the possibility of building out the second Viceroy building, but only if it hits sales of some undisclosed number of the current Viceroy units that recently went on the market. If it reaches that secret number and decides to move forward that will likely also trigger the construction of the long-awaited Brush Creek/Wood Road roundabout that will be paid for by the town and Related in accordance with a formula agreed upon during the original Base Village approvals.

For those in favor of moving forward at a brisker pace than currently appears to be Related's plan, not all is lost. In November 2014 Related's vested Base Village development rights will expire, and they clearly didn't pay $90 million for a second shot at Base Village to see it all go up in smoke again. The town has lots of leverage to negotiate when Related comes calling in the next few months for an extension of its vested rights, and perhaps as part of the quid pro quo for agreeing to an extension Related will agree to a completion plan more suitable to the desires of our community's full- and part-time residents.

Several of our town staff members and a couple of Town Council members are virgins when it comes to the back story of how and why Base Village was originally conceived and finally approved. It's incumbent upon all of us who want to see this current eyesore in the middle of our resort community completed in the most effective manner possible to once again weigh in with our thoughts and ideas and not just leave it to others who in many cases don't have any greater knowledge or expertise than the rest of us and in several cases even less.

Keep your eyes on local news reports and the council agendas for the public hearings that will likely occur in the first half of the new year regarding Base Village. If you care about the future of our resort community, make sure you communicate your thoughts and suggestions to your elected representatives via written communications and/or attendance and participation in the public hearings.

I just got wind of a piece of good news concerning our Ice Age discovery.

The Snowmass Discovery Board of DirectorsJill Beathard -ss 12/28/12 correct name?, through a generous donation from Aspen Skiing Co.'s Family Fund, has entered into an agreement with John W. McCarter Jr., the former president and CEO of the Chicago-based Field Museum of Natural History, which is a renowned educational institution whose mission concerns the diversity and relationships in nature and among cultures.

McCarter, a longtime Aspen/Snowmass visitor, is working with our Ice Age Discovery team in an exploratory and consulting role to best identify potential courses of action in celebrating this unique find. He has already met with Dr. Kirk Johnson, the supervisor of the Snowmass dig and current director of the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History. Starting in January, he will visit leaders at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science and then follow up with interviews in the Roaring Fork Valley with existing and potential stakeholders. It's his charge to gather information, seek to understand individual and collective objectives and plot potential courses of action to maximize the potential long-term overall benefits to be derived from this historic find.

There's still a long way to go to develop the full potential of our Ice Age discovery, but it appears that the Discovery Committee along with economic support from Skico's Family Fund are on the right track.

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The Aspen Times Updated Jan 2, 2013 02:11PM Published Dec 31, 2012 07:06PM Copyright 2012 The Aspen Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.