Healthy dialogue needed
(This letter was originally addressed to Mel Blumenthal, who has written several letters regarding the Base Village development.)Thank you for clarifying your position with reference to the mall and lifts. Your real position, that the mall must be killed as a commercial node in our community, makes it easier to understand why there is no need, in your mind, for a lift from the mall. Since, as you assert, the mall was a big mistake from the beginning, I wonder why we should push for a connector between the mall and the base. While I believe that the letters to the editor column is not the place to carry on a dialogue as significant as the lift configuration and demise of the mall, I do believe that a few incorrect assertions in your response must be set straight.First let me make it very clear that my position with reference to the demise of the mall and the lift placement has nothing to do with the fact that I help manage a store on the mall. The store is owned by a family corporation, and neither my wife, daughter nor I have any stock in that corporation. In addition, the lease for that location will expire about the time that the Base Village development will be ready for occupancy. Should a location become available and desirable, Snowmass Photos & Books could easily move. As for my law office, which I do own, I could easily go anywhere. So my position about the mall and the lifts isn’t based upon my selfish economic needs.You and others may have suggested that Intrawest give preference to any mall store that wishes to relocate to the base. However, they have not made such a commitment, or have even hinted to us that they will. That is not a part of their application, and although they have amended the application many times, they have never accepted your invitation. As an attorney, I am sure you wouldn’t advise a client to take action based upon the assumption that someone’s silence meant acceptance. Finally, those of you who have made these proposals, are playing with other people’s money, in this case Intrawest’s and the mall shop owners’ and landlords’. It is always easier to play with someone else’s money than your own.You assert that “all of the experts and consultants” have agreed that 100,000 square feet of commercial space will be sufficient. I don’t know what experts you have been listening to, but I know that there is no such agreement.Chris LeTourneur, the expert hired by the town, has always suggested that there must be at least 100,000 to 125,000 square feet of primarily food, beverage and retail type of commercial space to have a minimum critical mass to support a viable shopping experience. At best, and contrary to your assertions, Intrawest’s current application proposes between 60,000 and 80,000 square feet of this type of commercial space. (Perhaps you weren’t here when they clarified that point at one of our meetings?) If we assume the intentionally created death of the mall, where does the rest of the critical mass come from? Do we tell Intrawest to put in more? Are we again playing with someone else’s money?You imply that everyone agrees that the mall should be killed. I know Johnny Boyd does. Is he your expert?Patty Xenos, the Intrawest expert and Chris LeTourneur, the town’s expert, touted the viability of the bi-modal concept, integrating the mall and Base Village retail into one shopping experience. Intrawest has never once suggested that the mall should no longer exist.It is true that the mall landlords have not been innovative in their approach to the Base Village proposal. It would be nice to hear that they have decided to revitalize the mall with a combination of retail and residential units similar to those proposed at the base. I don’t like nor defend their absence as material players in the revitalization of the village. My job, however, is not to punish them for not coming forward, nor is it to tell them how they should or must spend their money. Not all of the community nor my fellow councilmen are in agreement with the new lift proposal or the death of the mall as a retail shopping experience. I am a representative of my community. I speak for the people who are electors of Snowmass Village and who elected me to represent them and their views. Many of them have told me that they don’t like the new lift proposals, don’t want to see the demise of the mall and don’t want everything in the hands of the Skico. In addition, perhaps you didn’t hear Councilman Mercatoris’ statement that he is concerned with the lift configuration and its effect on summer business. From my conversations with him, he doesn’t want to see the demise of the mall, either. Of course, you can pass his position off as protecting his own personal interest as you tried to do with mine. However, the fact remains that both he and I live and work in this village everyday, and interact with its citizens everyday. We chose to make this village our permanent and only home and have made the commitment to either fail or succeed with this village. We want to do what’s best for everyone. Not everyone agrees with me nor I with them. However, a healthy, intelligent dialogue between reasonable people should point the way to reasonable solutions. Hyperbolus claims that everyone or no one agrees or disagrees with one side or the other and the quotation of non-existent facts doesn’t help anyone.I look forward to seeing you at our meetings where we can carry on a dialogue with the aim of achieving a new, vibrant, healthy, sustainable Snowmass Village.Arnie MordkinSnowmass Village Councilman
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