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Base Village not the only way

Dear Editor:Seventeen years ago, when I first came to Snowmass Village, I was moved by its beauty. Now someone wants to change that forever, and some in our community think that going along with the current Base Village proposal is the only way forward. “If we don’t vote yes, we’ll stagnate and pretty soon no one will come here,” is the mantra I keep hearing wherever I go. The Town Council and the commercial interests of the Skico and its development partner have been quick to exploit this concern. Even worse, they’ve managed to parlay it into widespread fear. The belief system that now prevails is this: If the current proposal is rejected, the developers will withdraw forever. Haven’t officials from both the Skico and Intrawest said so? Of course they have, but how real is the threat? Jim Light, a veteran developer, recently asked this same question, “But will Aspen Skiing Co. just walk away from the property if we vote against Base Village?” His answer: “Not likely.” But Mr. Light cautions that a “no” vote would jeopardize faster ski lifts, a terrific children’s center and more shopping and dining. I strongly disagree. In my opinion, the Skico has every interest in keeping Snowmass Village vibrant and competitive, no matter which way its citizens vote. Why? Because Snowmass Village is the Skico’s most profitable and popular mountain and not to upgrade lifts and have a first-rate children’s center would be self-destructive. What about additional shopping and dining? Let’s focus on the realities of Snowmass Village’s services industry. Is there a lack of space? No. But those who offer restaurant or retail services find it hard to break even, because space is expensive and few tourists show up outside the winter season. How can we cure this remedy? Not by adding vast amounts of expensive new commercial space! What we need to do is attract more people and to extend the painfully short tourist season. The Base Village proposal doesn’t convincingly address either of these issues. Supporters of the “no” vote have made this and other points forcefully, but they’ve been decried as obstructionists who would oppose any development. If you believe that, ask yourself a simple question: Why would three former mayors of Snowmass Village, all of whom ran completely different administrations, join in virulent opposition to the current proposal? The answer is obvious: They understand that the current Base Village proposal is not the only way to progress. If you live in Snowmass Village, the question is whether you want to be in charge of your destiny or whether you want to let others determine what your town looks like. I know what kind of Snowmass Village I’d like. One that’s workable for the community and visitors alike. If we stay in control of change, we’ll be able to pass on to our children the beauty that sustains us every day. And that, it seems to me, matters more than anything!Peter CaveltiSnowmass Village


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