Mel Blumenthal
Snowmass Village, CO, Colorado

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February 12, 2013
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Mel Blumenthal: Many things the same 200 columns later

Some predicted and some hoped for the early demise of this column. Can you believe it's almost eight years since the first Second View hit the newsstands? Some still are hoping I'll just vaporize into the stratosphere. But as surprising as it might be, my supporters still outnumber the naysayers, and with this edition of the Sun I'm proud to be celebrating the 200th biweekly Second View and happy to report that the mothership still sends me a monthly stipend that helps defray a portion of my costly designer-coffee addiction.

Since it's been mostly quiet around town this past week, I thought I'd take a walk down memory lane and recount a few of the highlights included in this column over the past eight years.

In the beginning, there was an epiphany when I innocently walked into a Village Leadership Forum meeting at the Snowmass Chapel. As soon as I entered the door I was spotted by the forum leader, who immediately sensed the high probability that a bit of trouble had arrived on his doorstep, so I was directed to sit in the back of the room with the implication that I would be allowed to stay but not be heard from. That was the last time I kept my mouth closed on any town-related issues.

The forum leader was Bob Purvis, who in his quiet and collegial way was guiding his assembled flock, consisting of a cross-section of our community stakeholders, in a visioning process that ultimately resulted in the creation of our Village Aspiration statement. To this day that remains the guide by which we view, analyze and implement all development and lifestyle issues in our resort community.

Over the years I've been a bull in Bob's china shop as well as the china shops of others in the Village, but in spite of it all Bob and I have become and remain close friends. Although it might not be as apparent as some would like, he's had a calming influence over many of my more outlandish brain farts, which but for him you would likely have had to endure in many of my past columns.

Shortly following my epiphany, I was challenged by Madeleine Osberger, then Sun editor/general manager, to write a column covering issues and concerns pertinent to the interests of part-time residents.

Back then the underlying feeling of the vast majority of part-time residents was that full-time residents, elected officials and town staff were not interested in our opinions and concerns. However, as soon as I began interacting with many of the Town's stakeholders and leaders, I came to realize they were interested in our input and active participation in all matters concerning our community. They recognized the vast resource of professional and creative problem solvers that make up a large part of our constituency, and in order to tap into this pipeline, they established an official town advisory board made up of part-time residents to initiate and facilitate two-way communication with our elected officials, town staff and part-time resident constituents concerning town-related issues.

Some of the issues that came to the surface in those early columns were the beginning discussions concerning Base Village, planning and construction of Town Hall and development of the town entryway including a full-service recreation center and pool complex, redevelopment of the Mall, Snowmass Center and Snowmass Chapel, dissolution of the Snowmass Resort Association and the merger of its group sales function into the town's marketing department and creation of new marketing programs, events and community amenities.

I ended my first column by referencing the divided community of full- and part-time residents and indicating that we had a lot of work and many columns ahead in which to explore ways and means to bring both factions together to work constructively for the common good and benefit of the entire community.

As the 100th edition of this column hit the newsstands in April 2009, the full impact of the recession was just hitting our fair Village, and several of the topics covered in that column reflected the economic realities then in play.

I raised a special note of urgency regarding Base Village and the need for a contingency plan concerning the suspension of construction of the Little Nell and the possibility of a lengthy suspension of construction on the second Viceroy Hotel as well as the rest of Base Village. All of which unfortunately came to pass.

Although its bank financing fell through, Related dug deep into its own pockets and came up with $2 million to camouflage the Arrival Center with a temporary exterior façade as well as completing the internal transportation center and elements of vertical circulation from the garage to the plaza level. After that, most of the work on Base Village came to a complete halt until Related's recent reacquisition of the project following its foreclosure sale.

In addition to Base Village, other issues that were being debated back in 2005 were still hot discussion topics in this column in 2009. The redevelopment of the Snowmass Center, the West Village Mall area and the entryway as well as employee housing, resort marketing, event planning and group sales, and the health and welfare of our community and all its members were at the forefront of our community agenda.

As I write this 200th column, many of the same issues that were in play in 2005 and 2009 are still in play today, but due to an improving economy and lessons learned over the past 8 years, by the time the 300th column hits the stands hopefully most of these remaining issues will have been resolved or will be well on their way to complete resolution. Keep your fingers crossed.

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The Aspen Times Updated Feb 12, 2013 03:57PM Published Feb 12, 2013 03:53PM Copyright 2013 The Aspen Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.