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Costello says he can represent everyone

John Colson

Incumbent Kevin Costello, as he sat down with a reporter to talk about his bid for a seat on the Snowmass Village Town Council, admitted that he is “not very much of a politician.”

In fact, he said it several times, explaining that he was spending $10 more on this campaign than he spent two years ago, bringing his 2000 campaign war chest to a grand total of $100.

In 1998, he lost by six votes in his first attempt to get elected to the Village Council and then was appointed to fill the remaining two years in the seat being vacated by newly elected Mayor T. Michael Manchester.

This time around, he said, “I think I’ve done a damned good job” in his two years in office, and he is hoping the voters will keep him there.

“I’ve got as good an attendance record as anybody there,” he claimed, saying he has been at 76 out of the 80 meetings held since he was appointed.

Costello, 52, said he has lived in Snowmass Village for 30 years and has “a lot of history” with what he conceded is a shrinking number of “old-timers.”

Single and the owner-operator of a construction firm in town for the last 17 of those years, he said he got involved in town politics because, “When you live in a community, you do need to give back. You can’t just take all the time.”

And, he added, “You obviously don’t do this for the money,” noting that the council members are paid just over $500 per month.

“One thing I have going for me,” Costello said, “is that I’m not in anybody’s corner. Not the mall business owners, not the retirees, not the Ski Company. I represent everybody fairly.”

As an example, he said, he recently voted to kill plans for a nature center along Owl Creek Road near Two Creeks, despite the fact that many of his friends supported it.

“That was a very hard vote for me,” Costello said. “We could use a nature center. That just wasn’t the right place.”

One of his most critical concerns, he said, is that the town do nothing to further limit the elk habitat in the area, which he believes would have been the net effect of building the nature center.

“We’ve boxed them out enough,” Costello said. “When are we going to stop boxing them out? The day that I don’t see the elk is probably the day I won’t be there anymore.”

Another key issue facing the town, he said, is the need to work closely with the Aspen Skiing Co. on development of the base village property. He said the town has experienced declining sales tax revenues and the loss of “amenities,” such as the town pool and the old ice rink, and he is looking toward the Skico to bring back some of the “fun.”

“We need that idea that it’s a fun place to come,” he said. The town voters will be deciding the fate of a planned $2.5 million swimming pool on election day, and Costello is hoping the Skico will step forward to include an ice rink in the base village plans.

“It’s a place where density and mass should be,” he said of the base village area, “so I won’t be beating them up on that count.”

As for the inclusion of shops and restaurants in the base village commercial mix, he said, “I’d like to see some retail in there, but not a ton.” He said the base village should not become a retail hub in competition with the existing Snowmass Village Mall.

And, he said, there should be some mass transit “connection” between the base village and other parts of the resort. He favors holding off on a decision about the planned “transit center” near the village mall until more is known about the parking and mass transit components of the base village plan.

“I don’t see that all the parking problems are remedied at base village,” he said, but he believes the town would be “smarter” to wait and see exactly what is needed before going any further.

Other “amenities” Costello thinks Snowmass needs include building tennis courts in the town park and buying some share in the 21-acre Rodeo Grounds.

He supports the ballot question asking voters for authorization to negotiate with Rodeo Grounds owner Bill Burwell, up to a maximum of $3.5 million, “for some part of this piece of ground.”

In general, he said, there is a need to balance the beauty and environmental health of the town (exemplified by the resident elk herd) and to continue to provide “amenities” that will draw tourists in summer and winter and keep Snowmass competitive with other resorts.

“You don’t always want to be in the back row, and I think for the last 10 years we have been. We need to move to the front row,” he declared.


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