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Don’t overdevelop Snowmass

Jack Hatfield
Snowmass Village
Citizens For Responsible Growth

Sue Way, children’s director for the Aspen Skiing Co. Ski and Snowboard School, recently submitted a letter to the editor stating “the young people living here are the key to our future. They would love to stay and have the opportunity to raise families here.” Obviously.

Yet, does Ms. Way know that Intrawest and the Skico only want to mitigate one-half of their employee housing requirements? Does she know that developers can meet their mitigation in several ways, including building it or cash (value)-in-lieu?

Does she know that the Town Council is inclined to agree with less housing than more, as their sketch-plan approval and work-session time show? Seems like the developers’ goals are in contradiction with the hopes and dreams of their own employees.



Ms. Way goes on to say “as a number one resort, however, we are unable to give our guests a top-quality childcare facility. I have traveled to many ski areas and know our current facility is grossly outdated.” She then brings up the inadequate lift system.

Who is at fault here? With the exception of snowmaking, decades of neglect/insufficient investment in on-mountain improvements has resulted in the very real perception the Snowmass resort is in need of significant upgrades.



Ms. Way ends with “We need Base Village. We need to keep Snowmass Village alive and well for the future.” Does Ms. Way think by overbuilding the manmade environment, as proposed by Intrawest and the Skico, that “if they build it, they will come”? Does she think by “messing in our nest” that the “new” Snowmass resort experience will be reason enough to attract/steal new guests from other resorts?

Unfortunately, the Town Council refuses to do a market analysis in order to find out where the new guests (vitality/dollars) will come from.

Since the latest economic study by EPS, the town’s consultant, is contradictory of previous work, is based on “plug” numbers relative to occupancy and skier days, and therefore the resulting sales-tax revenues, are there any guarantees that the revitalization of the village will occur?

When council asked this question, the consultant said “you’ll have to take a chance.” Does this build a lot of confidence that the Base Village project is correctly sized? If council is wrong, the Snowmass community and resort has just become another Vail, Breckenridge, Copper Mountain and Keystone.

I would conclude that Snowmass Village should want to be a leader, offering a unique experience. The balance between our natural and manmade environments is critical to our economic, aesthetic and spiritual/psychological health.

The road to success is not paved by overdevelopment and the resulting impacts to our community, as proposed by Intrawest/Skico and the Snowmass Center. Once the goose that laid the golden egg is cooked, there’s no turning back.

Once we’ve become “everywhere resort USA,” we’ve lost the very reason why people live, work and visit here! What kind of community resort do we want? Unique and self-sustaining? Or a town based on “industrial tourism” that forever needs to grow in order to “pay the bills.”

Yes, I support a Base Village, but only if it is right-sized! Let’s let council know that the project needs downsizing. If the economics do not work for the developer, maybe it is time we stopped trying to fit a left-hand glove on the “right hand.”


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