Have an opinion on Base Village? Tell the council | AspenTimes.com

Have an opinion on Base Village? Tell the council

The first in a series of special public meetings to address the future of Snowmass Village will occur Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at the Fairway Center in the village.

The meetings were organized by the Snowmass Village Town Council in response to public concern and criticism over what some say is a lack of communication regarding the giant Base Village development. The meetings are designed to promote public feedback.

“Mostly I hope we can understand the issues and diversity of people within the community,” said Snowmass Village Mayor T. Michael Manchester. “The intent is really to talk about the village as a whole.”

The 6:30 p.m. meeting time is an attempt to attract as much of the public as possible. Regular Town Council meetings usually begin at 3 p.m., when many residents are still at work.

“We want as many people as possible,” said Councilman Doug Mercatoris.

The Base Village 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 Town Council has signed off on conceptual plans for Base Village.

Bob Schultz, who has worked closely with the Town Council and the public on a number of issues, will moderate the meetings.

“The council wants to try to be as objective as possible,” he said. “[They] hear murmurs and need people to sit down and say, `Here’s how we feel about the future.'”

Well over 100 people are expected to attend Wednesday’s meeting.

Last month, several citizens demanded a moratorium on the project, a move the Town Council denied. Manchester said halting progress would accomplish nothing since no final decisions have been made regarding the project.

“We can accomplish the same goals without stopping the process,” Manchester said last month.

Until recently, Base Village meetings have generated both low public attendance and feedback, which has frustrated council members.

“I get angry when they don’t show up,” Councilman Arnie Mordkin said last month. “Because nobody has showed up, they don’t realize we haven’t had a real position on [the proposal].”

Last month, however, over 50 residents filed into council chambers to voice their opinions. With the exception of one resident who voiced her support for the Town Council, the rest of the public statements made at the July 21 meeting opposed Base Village.

Former Snowmass Village Mayor Jeff Tippett has been diligently attending meetings as a resident since Base Village was proposed.

“I’ve never seen a council act this way,” said Tippett, who served on the Town Council for 17 years. “I’m very concerned with the way they’re operating.”

Tippett, who’s been meeting with a group of like-minded residents to discuss the project’s evolution, said if certain issues aren’t addressed by the council, he and other members of the public will respond aggressively.

A citizen initiative could put the project’s fate into the hands of the public.

[Steve Benson’s e-mail address is sbenson@aspentimes.com]

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