Marolt: Taking our payback for Base Village | AspenTimes.com

Marolt: Taking our payback for Base Village

Roger Marolt
Cluster Phobic

Roger Marolt

I think it might be time to play a little game of chicken with Aspen Skiing Co.

OK, I didn't really mean to say that. What I really meant to say is it is absolutely time to play a big game of chicken with Skico because I don't think we will lose. This game theory is based on one premise, and that premise is that Skico benefits far more than the rest of Snowmass Village combined from our tax dollars we spend on transportation and marketing. If this is true, then we have a huge lever to use with them. When we say "jump," we don't have to tell them how high. We can practically launch them into the air with it.

Is a bus system between Snowmass Village and Aspen beneficial to us? Heck yeah, it is! It helps our businesses by transporting tourists back and forth to the main attraction in the valley and provides a whole lot of convenience for us when we want to do things in Aspen and don't want to get our cars dirty. Basically, we can't do without it.

So what would happen if we simply said we weren't going to spend another single cent of our tax dollars to subsidize Roaring Fork Transportation Authority? If you don't care to guess, I will tell you what would happen. Skico would step up and pay for all of it and things would operate as well as ever around here. They might even then use their leverage with the Aspen Chamber Resort Association to get their membership to pitch in and help cover the deficit left by us.

We are holding the big stick here. Visitors love to ski Snowmass but do everything else in Aspen. We are one of Aspen's biggest amenities, at least in the wintertime. The best kept secret of all is that this is how Snowmass was designed to operate from the beginning. We were supposed to be Aspen's responsibility from the get go.

The point is, if we cut off our financial support for public transportation between here and there, do you think Aspen is going to stand by and let it die? No way! And why not? Because they have a lot more to lose if it does.

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I know it sounds cutthroat, and it is in many ways. But look at the big picture. We're dying and they're thriving and this scenario has pretty much held fast for … well … just about ever. They can pay all the freight from their excesses and still remain way ahead in the financial standings compared to us. They get big bang for their buck and we just get bucked off. It's a matter of fairness to change things up and it's long overdue.

Are you with me so far? Good, then you will love what I have to say next and it will be easy to follow because it is about marketing dollars we are currently spending and the arguments to stop are almost exactly the same as the ones I've just used against the continued funding of transportation between here and Aspen.

Our advertising dollars do far more good for Aspen than they do for us. That's the argument, it's the truth, so enough said on that.

Now, to drive the point of a pen into their checkbook even farther, remember that Skico is now partnering with East West Partners to finish Base Village. More than ever before, Skico will have a huge vested interest in the success of Snowmass Village besides just operating the ski area.

We do, too, but they will get financially killed if it doesn't work while we will simply continue to endure the status quo of the past 13 years. Big deal. Finally our patience with the whole Base Village debacle for the duration of our kids' childhoods can be rewarded. We know we have the balls to do this because they are all lying around in our court.

As I said, it is a ruthless plan, but if we have learned anything with the Base Village experience it is that developers can be cutthroat, too. We've seen it. Our neck has bled. It is how to play the game and they have taught us well. For more than a decade, they did what they had to do with nary an apology. Now we should do the same.

It is our turn to give the die a roll and see what comes up. It could be fun to play. It usually is when you have nothing to loose.

Roger Marolt thinks Snowmass Village doesn't always have to play the patsy. Email at roger@maroltllp.com.

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