Letter: Related puts profits before community | AspenTimes.com

Letter: Related puts profits before community

Related puts profits before community

Editor's note:The following iis an open letter to the Snowmass Village Town Council.

In filling out the recent town of Snowmass Village survey, we came across several mentions of the importance of "maintaining a sense of community." Well, with the announcement of the replacement of the Village Market with Clark's Market, our sense of community received a swift kick in the pants.

Much has been said and written already about how Snowmass residents feel about our Village Market. So suffice it to say that we, too, love the Village Market and its employees. Never have I met a more friendly, helpful and welcoming group of folks in any other store anywhere. The Village Market has been totally satisfactory to us in merchandise quality and selection. They have a proven 35-year track record of exemplary service to our community. So much for rewarding performance, loyalty, longevity and character. Bravo, Related.

Now to the proposed changes. Regardless of the content of Clark's press release and Mr. Romero's announcements, we are about to change the whole character of the Snowmass Center. When one reads past the headlines, all kinds of changes come to light. A 4,000-square-foot enlargement of the grocery store can only entail closing the walkway through the center. Mr. Romero has come up with a plan which no doubt appeals to Related greatly: He will turn non-revenue-producing space (i.e. the interior corridor) into revenue-producing space. From a dollars and cents standpoint, it's a fine idea, which I'm sure Related appreciates.

But what does it do to the center, which has become the "town square" meeting place for all Snowmass Village residents? This is where Snowmass people come together.

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The center will be divided into two parts by closing the walkway. No longer can a customer go conveniently from the post office or the grocery store to Sundance Liquor and Gifts and the restaurants and stairs to the offices on the other side. During rain and snow they will be forced to walk outside, and the sense of cohesion will be lost. The center will no longer be "the center" but a divided shopping place accessible only from the outside.

Now this conversion plan is coming before you. Does this fit your plan to retain a sense of community? This change is lauded with such "improvements" as a store with greater selection, fresh sushi and a private store chef. Don't be fooled by all of the hoopla. Please remember, Related is motivated by one thing only — maximimum return on investment. What the residents of Snowmass Village think is of little concern to them.

Let's not forget that your predecessors on the council "screwed up royally" (pardon my French) when they allowed one developer to get control of all the town's commercial space. We have lived with the sad results of that for years. This is a typical example, and the monopoly continues.

Related of Colorado made this announcement consciously at a time when most part-time residents are gone and many locals are on vacation, all in the hope of avoiding a big uproar. This speaks to their attitude toward our community. They hope to squeeze a little more revenue out of the old building with total disregard for an exemplary grocery store operator, a group of wonderful employees and the residents of Snowmass Village.

You will decide how this fiasco goes forward. Are you going to vote with Related or the people of your town? Will you vote to maintain the sense of community you claim to value so highly? We hope so.

Heinz and Allison Simon

Snowmass Village and Irving, Texas

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