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Manchester says he can lead any team

Allyn Harvey

Snowmass Mayor T. Michael Manchester believes the negotiations with the Droste family that led to the protection of 503 acres in the Brush Creek Valley floor is one of his top accomplishments.

But it’s not the only thing the one-term mayor of Snowmass Village would like voters to consider as they’re assessing his record. Other accomplishments include the construction of new affordable housing at Mountain View and coaxing the Aspen Skiing Company into moving the employee housing phase of the redevelopment of the Snowmass Club to the beginning of the project.

He’s also pleased with the excise tax that voters approved to help pay for affordable housing. “Basically, it’s an opportunity for people in Snowmass Village to buy extra square footage for their homes in exchange for paying into a fund that goes to affordable housing,” he said.

And last but not least, Manchester cites the agreement between seven valley governments that lays the foundation for a rural transportation authority to fund and operate bus service between Rifle and Aspen as a major accomplishment during his term.

As for the future, Manchester sees three big issues on the horizon in Snowmass Village – the base village proposal from the Aspen Skiing Company, construction of affordable housing and figuring out a way to make it a different and better place for people to visit.

“The mass and scale at base village needs to fit in with the community’s character,” he said. “That’s not to say I don’t think it should be large, which I think it should be, but it needs to preserve our connection to the natural environment and be a comfortable and useful place for the entire community.”

A recent trip to Park City, Utah, gave him ideas about what might and might not work in Snowmass Village. “When base village is done, there won’t be much more room for commercial development, so we need to do it right,” he said.

Manchester believes affordable housing should be built whenever and wherever the opportunity arises and supports the town’s goal of requiring developers to find in-village housing for 70 percent of the employees who will eventually be employed at their project. “It’s ambitious and expensive, but necessary to provide the affordable housing we need to house as many employees here as possible,” he said.

He would also like to see the town provide more things for people to do. Along with golf, the rodeo and the town’s offerings in the area of art, Manchester would like to see the addition of a public pool, a climbing wall and maybe a trampoline park. “I think we need more emphasis on programs and amenities for teenagers,” he said.

Manchester has lived in Snowmass Village since 1978. He served on the town Planning Commission from 1985 to 1994, including a seven-year stint as chairman. He was appointed to the Town Council in 1994 and re-elected in 1996. He was elected mayor in 1998 after predecessor Ted Grenda stepped down.

This year, Grenda’s running against him. “I think Ted was frustrated in his first term as mayor because he didn’t have a council that was sympathetic to his program, which is true,” said Manchester. “Maybe he thinks that with a more amenable council he can get more done. That’s noble, but I can be the leader for whatever team this community elects.”


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