Krabloonik gets its ‘due process’ in council discussion
Review committee tasked with filing new report as a group
In ongoing discussions about Krabloonik Dog Sledding’s operations and lease compliance this week, Snowmass Village officials emphasized “due process” at a May 2 Town Council meeting.
The meeting was an opportunity for Krabloonik co-owner Danny Phillips to provide detailed explanations of the off-tether exercise, spay and neuter, retirement and adoption programs at Krabloonik, which leases the land it operates on from the Town of Snowmass Village.
Mayor Bill Madsen had requested “real records we can manage” of those four programs to determine a “path forward” during a heated April 11 work session. The programs are all mentioned in the Best Practices Plan attached to Krabloonik’s lease.
Council would likely need to vote to issue a notice of default if they found Krabloonik was not meeting the terms of its lease. But first, they’ll need to follow the order of operations laid out in that lease. That was the main focus of this week’s discussion.
“It’s staffs’ recommendation that the council listen to — be very conscious of due process and listen to the presentation today from Krabloonik,” Town Manager Clint Kinney said during the May 2 meeting.
Then, the council could provide direction to town staff and the Best Practices Review Committee, Kinney said.
An agenda summary for the discussion presented two options for the next steps.
One, if the Town Council was satisfied with the presentation, they could continue to rely on quarterly meetings and annual reports from the Best Practices Review Committee as established in the lease in Paragraph 11 A.
Two, if the Town Council was “not satisfied that the Best Practices are being met, or otherwise feels more detailed information needs to be provided,” the council could ask the committee “to meet as soon as practical, to continue to review the operations and provide a report to the Town, approved by the reconstituted committee, subject to the requirements of Paragraph 11 B of the lease,” the agenda summary states.
That paragraph permits the committee to “submit reports to the Town Manager describing any circumstances or events which the BPRC believes violate the Best Practices or jeopardize the health, safety or well-being of the Krabloonik sled dogs,” the lease states.
After that report, “the next steps could range from issuing a notice of default to continuing forward with the existing conditions and operations (along with any option in between),” the agenda summary states.
Phillips provided some details about the four programs in a two-page email addressed to Kinney, Town Attorney John Dresser and Krabloonik co-owner Gina Phillips on April 28.
In the email and at the meeting, Danny Phillips noted that Krabloonik has 167 dogs onsite, which is below the 175-dog maximum established in Krabloonik’s lease. (A couple dozen have been adopted out or are at Aspen Animal Shelter and some older dogs died, lowering the count from the 199 dogs that were on the premises in early 2022, Phillips said.)
Phillips reported that about three dozen dogs are off-tether and the remainder free-run in groups of 15 to 20 dogs for at least one hour each week. He told council that the Friends of the Aspen Animal Shelter will support spaying and neutering of 50 dogs this year; about 110 dogs are not currently spayed or neutered, he said.
He told council that Krabloonik’s current adoption efforts focus on adopting dogs from the facility in Snowmass rather than sending dogs to shelters based on what he sees as “what’s best for the dogs,” he said. He told council he hopes to get down to about 100 working dogs onsite, with 125 total dogs including retirees, puppies and other non-working dogs. “What’s best” for individual dogs also informs the retirement program, he wrote in his email.
All five members of the Town Council indicated that they’d still like to see an additional report from the Best Practices Review Committee.
Not all members of the review committee need to come to a consensus in the report from the group. If they disagree, “I think that’s going to have to be part of the report,” Madsen said. Councilman Tom Fridstein suggested that a “minority report” could be included in what the group files with the town.
Madsen said he hoped to get a copy of the new report back from the committee by June 1 for review at a June 6 regular town council meeting.
Kinney suggested that the staff might help with committee coordination and said that “if people are gone, we’ve asked for the flexibility to get the report done well.”
The Best Practices Review Committee is already down a member, less than one month after the group reconvened with the lease-designated six members, five of whom were new to the committee. (The committee previously dwindled to just one member, Seth Sachson.)
Town-appointed member Bill Fabrocini resigned during the meeting Monday night after he was told he would need to present findings from his own investigative work as part of a group report from the committee, not an individual report.
Fabrocini told the council that the “evidence” he hoped to present was “regarding compliance of the law” rather than the Best Practices Plan. Fabrocini said he was willing to resubmit the report in advance of a presentation to follow procedure. He wanted to present his findings to the council first, then meet with the Best Practices Review Committee.
He told the council he intended to submit a report of his findings to the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office and several state agencies, including the Bureau of Animal Protection, the Pet Animal Care Facilities Act program, the state attorney general’s office and the governor’s office.
“I’m giving you the opportunity to know what will be submitted this evening right now,” Fabrocini said.
Council did not opt to seize that opportunity. Fabrocini said he would remain on the committee only if he was allowed to submit an individual report, separate from that of the Best Practices Review Committee. Otherwise, he said, he would resign. Madsen told Fabrocini to report his findings to the Best Practices Review Committee first.
“If it is compelling information, it will be in that report that we get,” Madsen said. After Madsen said again he would like to see Fabrocini report to the committee, Fabrocini resigned and left the meeting.
At an April 11 council work session, Fabrocini had been allowed to share some findings and observations in a nearly half-hour presentation. That work session was the first time all six members of the Best Practices Review Committee formally met.
At this week’s meeting, town officials pointed to due process and the lease terms as the reason Fabrocini would need to report to the committee first and submit his findings as part of a committee report rather than an individual one.
The lease allows Best Practices Review Committee members to visit Krabloonik “collectively or individually to inspect and review the operation,” Town Attorney John Dresser told the council.
But when it comes to the report of what members find, “everywhere in it, it says the committee shall report. … It really doesn’t have provisions for a single person to come in and say, ‘here’s what I have,’” Dresser said.
Town Council remains in the information-gathering state in review of operations at Krabloonik and has not yet issued a notice of default. That would likely require a council vote, but if it were to reach that point, Dresser indicated that the town would need to follow the process established in the lease.
“When Bill (Fabrocini) made his take-it-or-leave-it offer tonight, contractually, the town and the council really don’t have a choice because the Phillips as the tenant could say, ‘You can’t default me because you didn’t follow the procedures,’” Dresser said.
Editor’s note: This story is part of ongoing coverage of Krabloonik Dog Sledding. For previous stories, visit snowmasssun.com. This story was originally published in the May 4 edition of The Snowmass Sun. It was later posted online on May 15 due to a previous web publishing error.
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