Keep things in perspective | AspenTimes.com

Keep things in perspective

Here we go again! Last week the “Citizens for Snowmass” belittled the conditions of Snowmass Village.

Deprecating comments about our village have become the technique of choice to support huge development, without a balancing assessment of the effect of those developments on the quality of life.

Neither has there been any identification of or recommendations on the many alternative actions that can and should be taken to improve existing properties and businesses. This so-called citizen’s group, in case you missed it, is dominated by real estate agents and Skico employees.

Sure, business is down, and sure we should strive for improvement and growth. But let us keep things in perspective. The national economy is not strong. Snowmass has declined about the same as Aspen, with its world-famous image and attractions.

We have been without a golf course for 2 1/2 years, but I trust we will have one next year. The impact of all the “hot beds” at the new Snowmass Club residence additions and the Timbers Club should be felt this winter. Let us not forget that we were again ranked fourth-best ski resort in the annual survey by SKI magazine.

Note the annual report last week from Intrawest, the vaunted “savior” of Snowmass. In its latest quarter, its ski and resort operations lost $18.8 million versus $8.5 million the prior year.

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Its destination ski traffic fell 17 percent in the last two months of the season compared to the previous year, and they themselves cited the usual reasons of the economy, war and SARS. Why doesn’t our Town Council consider these factors?

In the second of the Village Forums, the Town Council could not, or would not, answer the clear question, “Why are we down?” Nevertheless, the sketch plans they approved with 683 units at Base Village, 63 at the Snowmass Center and 70 other units, for a total of 816, is more than twice the units specified in the comprehensive plan and town codes. There does not seem to be a village-wide, factual statement of occupancy rates.

I have surveyed a few property management firms and find that occupancy rates are down greatly in recent years, in one case about 50 percent. Surely, there must be a better plan than adding 816 units over 10 years.

How about starting with more effective marketing for existing for-rent properties and adding up to 400 additional units, which would be greater than the approved town plans of 347 units?

Jim Heywood

Snowmass Village

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