Mel Blumenthal
Columnist
Snowmass Village, CO, Colorado

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April 9, 2013
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Mel Blumenthal: Three offseason chores for our bureaucrats and elected officials

Just a few days left until the end of ski season and the beginning of a quiet period when all of us part-timers will depart paradise for our regular routines back home and the full-timers will head to Maui and other parts of the world to recover from their hectic winter schedules.

But our elected and appointed officials, whose job it is to make sure all is well and secure in paradise, still have a full plate of issues to work on while we're gone.

In no particular order of priority, here are several of the more important issues requiring further exploration, cogitation and resolution:

1. The hiring of a new director for the Snowmass marketing, group sales and special events department, in recent years referred to as Snowmass Tourism.

Susan Hamley, who's headed this department since its inception, recently resigned after a long and successful tenure. This department has an annual budget in the neighborhood of $5 million, 13 staff members and effectively 15 different bosses (nine board members, five council members and the town manager) often pulling in different directions at the same time, causing much stress to all involved, particularly the department director.

Preliminary to finding and hiring a new director, it appears that the marketing board, the town manager and a majority of the Town Council have come to the realization that some changes are necessary in the way things have been handled in the past in order to run a more collegial, efficient and productive department without all the stress and sturm und drang of the past.

In addition, a majority of the council realizes that without streamlining communication and coordination among

the council, board, town manager and department director, they don't have a snowball's chance in hell of attracting a highly qualified candidate to lead Snowmass Tourism.

2. As requested in my last column, the town is finally gearing up its forces to begin planning the completion of the entryway.

Although the bureaucrats are doing what they do best, which is to talk in flowery and often ambiguous terms, they finally appear to be moving, although more slowly than one would hope. But that's also what they do best.

There appears to be public and private money in rather sizeable amounts waiting on the sidelines to be put to good use to complete a proper entryway for our fair village. It appears the town will soon engage the community in a planning process that will expeditiously develop an acceptable plan for completion of this rather constrained area. There are several concepts already floating around, which include a multi-use arena for summer, fall and winter programming and events, stream restoration, a fishing pond and attractive landscaping.

3. The slow-moving and, up to this point, secretive Ice Age Discovery board has finally cracked open its closet door a bit and let us take a peek inside, at least as to what's in store for us in the short term.

They've proposed hiring a part-time, highly qualified executive director to further the board's mission of bringing initial ideas to fruition for this summer and to further explore the feasibility, priorities, costs and fundraising requirements of the broader, longer-term recommendations put forth by its consultant, John McCarter, the recently retired CEO of the Field Museum in Chicago.

The board has obtained $21,000 from the town's general fund to hire a part-time executive director and $22,500 from Snowmass Tourism to fund this summer's new programming, which would include installation of a fossil preparatory lab showcasing some of the actual bones discovered in Ziegler Reservoir, allowing for an interactive public look at the bones and what goes into prepping them for analysis as well as an Aspen Skiing Co.-funded "dig pit" to highlight the discovery aspect and ice-age replicas.

It's been slow going with these guys, but there now appears to be a few long-awaited major ripples on the pond. While you're relaxing and recharging your batteries in the offseason, I'll keep my eyes focused on the local landscape in order to ensure that the powers that be stay focused on moving these important issues to a positive conclusion.

I'm always open to your comments and suggestions at secondview@earthlink.net.


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The Aspen Times Updated Apr 9, 2013 07:05PM Published Apr 9, 2013 07:03PM Copyright 2013 The Aspen Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.