‘Merc’ ready to lead Snowmass | AspenTimes.com

‘Merc’ ready to lead Snowmass

Steve Benson

Doug Mercatoris, or “Merc” as he’s known to everyone, has lived in Snowmass Village since 1977. He’s been elected to the Snowmass Village Town Council four times, serving a total of 14 years, and now he’s gunning for mayor. With that wealth of political experience, it’s no surprise he’s running unopposed. “I take it as a compliment,” said Mercatoris, who’s owned the Mountain Dragon restaurant, located on the Snowmass Village mall, for 20 years. “I’d really like to finish my public service as the mayor of Snowmass Village.” A number of issues will be facing him as mayor, including a hefty slate of proposed developments.

The Snowmass Center, town hall, entryway master plan and revitalization of the mall are all key projects that will go before the new Town Council. And while a final vote on Base Village will take place later this month, it will continue to be a major issue in the coming term. Assuming the council approves the project, and a referendum is voted down, the construction of Base Village will last until at least 2011. Maintaining the pleasant nature of the community while dealing with the resort construction will surely be a challenge. “One of the most important things we can do is to make the construction impacts as least impactive as possible while we get Base Village in the ground,” Mercatoris said. “And the town will have a lot to do with that.” While Mercatoris has some problems with the development, slated for the bottom of Fanny Hill, he is a supporter.

“If I were king I would’ve had more employee housing with this project and reduced the density by one building,” he said. “But the compromises and the negotiations between the Town Council and the developer have given us a project we can all be proud of.”Snowmass’ future is very bright. The advent of Base Village will encourage redevelopment throughout our community, the mountain improvements will continue to keep us ahead of the competition for ski resorts in North America … and a major four-star conference hotel in Snowmass Village will be great for the entire valley.” Balancing the existing businesses on the mall with the new businesses in Base Village will also present a challenge. But Mercatoris will continue to address the issue. “I’ve been proactive in encouraging redevelopment of the existing commercial core,” he said. “We have a staff assigned to it, we’ve hired a consultant … and we’ve looked into the master planning to figure out how to encourage redevelopment there.”The previous Town Council passed legislation that makes it easier for people to redevelop land [on the mall].”

The current council also required Intrawest and the Aspen Skiing Co. to include a cabriolet lift in their plan. The cabriolet will move people between Base Village and the mall.”I definitely am a firm supporter of working with the private sector, and mass transit with parking situations to encourage redevelopment of the existing commercial core,” he said. “I have confidence we can make this work.” Mercatoris also plans to fight for a recreation center in conjunction with the swimming pool near the rodeo grounds, which is the future site of the planned entryway. And he wants to keep the post office – in danger of leaving town – in Snowmass Village. “Snowmass Village has been very good to me and I want to give something back to the community,” he said. “I don’t take anything for granted and I appreciate folks’ support.” Steve Benson’s e-mail address is sbenson@aspentimes.com