Base Village scrutiny is on the rise
Aspen Times Staff Writer
With growing concern over the Snowmass Village Town Council’s handling of the proposed Base Village development, more than 50 residents squeezed into the council’s chambers to voice their concerns at a meeting Monday.
Over the past few months, public meetings on Base Village have garnered poor public attendance. That changed last week when several residents showed up at a meeting and demanded a moratorium on Base Village.
The project, a joint proposal by the Aspen Skiing Co. and resort developer Intrawest, would add 635 condos, 10 townhomes, 180 employee units, 184,000 square feet of nonresidential space (including 94,000 square feet of restaurant and retail), parking for 1,100 cars and 20 homesites in nearby Sinclair Meadows. The project is slated for the bottom of Fanny Hill.
The moratorium was denied by the council, with members saying no decisions have been made regarding Base Village and that halting the plan’s progress would solve nothing. Instead, they said the problem was rooted in a lack of communication and public involvement.
Citizens responded to that by gathering yesterday in the council’s chambers.
Snowmass Village Mayor T. Michael Manchester began the meeting by informing the packed room that he and others on the Town Council had devised a series of “parallel” meetings with the public. In those meetings, which will begin in early August, Manchester said any and all concerns regarding Base Village and the future of the community as a whole will be addressed and discussed with the public.
“Council has been talking about the best way to open and broaden communication,” he said. The goal, he said, is to work “through these issues as a whole community [and] get us what we want, the way we want it.”
“The more input we get from the public, the better decisions we can make,” said Councilman Doug Mercatoris. “I would like as many people to come and participate in this process as possible.”
But several citizens who have been attending meetings and providing input, like Jeff Tippett, were not satisfied with the council’s comments. Tippett said the problem is not rooted in a lack of communication, but in the council’s indifference to public comment. He said he’s been attending these meetings for a long time and council members never listened to what he’s said.
“Obviously, you haven’t given us what we asked for,” said Tippett, a former Snowmass Village mayor and 17-year member of the Town Council. “I’ll be looking for signs that you’re listening.”
Other members of the public, like Jim Heywood and Jack Hatfield, a Pitkin County commissioner, are suspicious that the council has already made up its mind on Base Village, and that time is running out for residents. Conceptual plans for Base Village have been approved.
Heywood, of Snowmass Village, asked the council if they have decided whether they will approve the next step in the process, which could put more power into the hands of the developers.
“I’m not trying to decide today,” Manchester said. “There are still a lot of issues that need to be resolved.”
“Your answer reminds me of my first girlfriend who wouldn’t say either yes or no,” Heywood said.
Hatfield said the council’s prior actions concern him, and he wondered if the “parallel” meetings will be futile. Hatfield, a former Snowmass councilman, said he was a member of the public, since the county commissioners were not involved in the meeting.
“What we’ve seen … is you’re going down the wrong path,” he said. “By saying we’re going to do a parallel process doesn’t guarantee us anything.”
Council members and Town Manager Mike Segrest maintained that nothing final has been decided and that they will continue to consider public comment.
“It isn’t like the train has left the station,” Segrest said.
At least one member of the public trusted the council.
“I support you,” said Maureen Stapleton of Snowmass Village. “I voted for you guys and I believe in your process.”
The exact dates, times, and location of the “parallel” meetings will be decided later this week.
[Steve Benson’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org]
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
Readers around Aspen and Snowmass Village make the Aspen Times’ work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.
Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.
Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.
Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.
User Legend: Moderator Trusted User