Snowmass Village looks to flatten bottom of Fanny Hill | AspenTimes.com

Snowmass Village looks to flatten bottom of Fanny Hill

Jill Beathard
Snowmass Sun

The base of Fanny Hill will be a little flatter this season if Snowmass Village moves forward with plans for installing an event lawn there.

The Snowmass Marketing, Special Events & Group Sales Board approved a proposal to budget $150,000 from the group-sales fund for the project, which would start before winter. The lawn would be 25,000 square feet and occupy the space where a sand volleyball court is now, to skier's right of the Village Express chairlift at the base of Snowmass ski area.

Group Sales Director Fred Brodsky said his department faces two challenges in booking groups: One is a lack of meeting space, and the other is a lack of flat space for social, recreational groups. Snowmass Tourism has moved events down to Town Park for the latter reason, which has been met with some criticism from businesses in the mall.

"It's certainly controversial that we're moving things out of the core," Brodsky said. "We need flat space."

Brodsky has met with Aspen Skiing Co. and Related Colorado, both of which own parts of the land. However, the town would pay for the project. Snowmass Tourism has contracted with Summit Construction to draw up plans and ultimately oversee the project if approved. Summit estimates the cost at $130,000, but Brodsky requested approval for $150,000 as a "buffer."

The project would include installing power and irrigation, leveling the ground and bringing up the stairs to Base Village, Brodsky said. Tents and other equipment would be brought in for individual events.

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Brodsky is working to contract a group that will book approximately 2,500 room nights in July that he says won't book without the lawn.

Brodsky told the board that Skico is excited about leveling the area because it will make it easier for skiers and snowboarders to get in line for the chairlift. Members of the board and public asked why Skico wasn't paying for it in that case.

"They don't really need it," Brodsky said. "If I lose this group, … maybe we don't do it."

"From the perspective of the lodging community that feels perhaps they don't get their fair share, … (the lawn could be an) asset for those who are kind of on the outside of the group business right now," said board Chairman Robert Sinko, general manager of the Crestwood Condominiums.

Brodsky said he is putting more emphasis on social, recreational groups that don't need traditional meeting space and so often stay in condos or non-group-oriented hotels. Those groups also need more social spaces like the proposed lawn.

"You could have community stuff down there," said board member John Borthwick, a business owner. "I think it's an absolute no-brainer."

"This adds an entirely new component to things that can be done in that area," said board member Scott Calliham, who owns two restaurants in Base Village.

Board member Steve Santomo, general manager at Destination Snowmass, asked why Brodsky contracted with Summit without getting additional bids. Brodsky said Steve Sewell, Snowmass ski area manager, recommended Summit and that Skico was sensitive to the outcome of the project.

"This is the gateway to the product," Brodsky said. "I kind of took it as this is the guy he wants to work with."

The board voted unanimously to approve the proposal as long as the cost does not exceed $150,000 and the plans are reviewed by Sinko and Howard Gross, events committee chairman. The Town Council also will have to approve the project.

Construction needs to start before the snow begins to fall in order to have the lawn ready next summer, Brodsky said.

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