Mel Blumenthal
Snowmass Village, CO, Colorado

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January 15, 2013
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Mel Blumenthal: Get ready Town Council, big-city guys are coming

We completed the first leg of our winter sojourn in Snowmass last week and now are settled back in sunny, but chilly, Santa Monica readying ourselves for our return to the Village for leg two in a few short weeks.

Since road biking on our local beach path in cold weather is not all that enjoyable, I've been staying close to home and screening all the Academy Award-nominated films that I wasn't able to catch during the holidays at Aspen Film's Academy Screenings.

If you've not already done so make sure you see "Django Unchained," "Lincoln," "Silver Linings Playbook," "Argo," "Les Miserables" and "Life of Pi" before the Oscars are handed out on Feb. 24.

If you're an awards season fanatic, you won't want to miss Aspen Film's gala awards party at the Caribou Club on Oscar night. The proceeds of this celebration will benefit Aspen Film's valleywide education and film programs. Cocktails, dinner, dancing and the centerpiece live telecast of the 85th annual Academy Awards along with a spectacular silent and live auction is a sell out each year so make your reservations early by contacting Aspen Film at 970-925-6882. I'm looking forward to seeing you on the Red Carpet.

While in the Village during the past four weeks, we observed either firsthand or via communications with friends, family and readers of this column a few missteps that hopefully with a bit of thought and planning will be corrected as soon as possible.

Many have communicated their displeasure with the new winter menu at the Viceroy's 8K restaurant as well as dissatisfaction with its level of service. This comes as an unwelcome surprise since 8K's past seasonal menus and service have met with much praise. Hopefully it will get its act together soon, particularly in light of all the positive reaction to the new Westin Resort at the Mall.

Speaking of the Westin, if you've not already visited the newly renovated hotel, its sister Wildwood Snowmass and all the new eating and retail establishments adjoining them, make sure you do so soon. Lots of money was poured into renovating these properties, and it shows off to sensational effect as soon as you approach the entrance. High-level service is a Westin hallmark, and it's impressive to those of us who come to the Village with egos and stomachs demanding high levels of pampering.

Town Council's permitting of the Viceroy's huge electric carriage into the center of Base Village during ski season is a serious accident waiting to happen.

Apparently those who went ballistic over the possibility of increased traffic resulting from the Roaring Fork Mountain Club and their personal inconveniences on the road leading up to parking lots 12 and 13 had their eyes closed when their favored Viceroy management team came calling for permission to deliver their guests to the edge of the Fanny Hill. How about safely delivering them to the recently completed pedestrian Base Village garage entrance, just like the rest of us do?

A much more significant problem is our dysfunctional newly seated Town Council with some members exhibiting personal and in many cases conflicting agendas that don't put the welfare of our entire community ahead of their own narrow self-interests.

All of this unfortunately was witnessed recently during the three Town Council hearings on the Roaring Fork Mountain Club's request for an annual temporary use permit that would have allowed it to move to the Timberline Condominiums adjacent to parking lot 13 from the space they've occupied since their inception in the old Silvertree Hotel.

The disrespectful and unprofessional treatment of the Club's representative, Jim Light, a long and valued member and contributor to our community, along with his partner Jim Chaffin, was a low point in our local political history.

Although some might argue that a private mountain club is of no great importance to our community, the Club's members in fact contributed significant dollars to our local merchants during tough economic times as well as our local sales tax coffers. Because of the council's inability to work out a fair and reasonable compromise as is the traditional course in a small town, the club is no more, the dollars are gone, and the resort has pissed off many of our full- and part-time residents and guests.

This sorry state of affairs bodes ill for the significant work that lies ahead when Related Colorado and its band of big-city professionals arrive at the council's door with completion plans for Base Village and future plans for the renovation of the Mall and Snowmass Center.

Our council is not yet ready for prime-time. There's a palpable lack of collegiality amongst its members and no apparent unified point of view or direction for our Village going forward. And worst of all, they're not paying attention to their appointed advisory boards made up of lay and professional experts schooled and seasoned in the issues coming before council.

The council needs to take a long, hard look at its internal operations and interpersonal relationships, and hopefully, with the help of an experienced facilitator, it will get its act together before the big-city guys come calling.

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The Aspen Times Updated Jan 15, 2013 04:40PM Published Jan 15, 2013 04:38PM Copyright 2013 The Aspen Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.