Not all of Base Village pleases Town Council | AspenTimes.com

Not all of Base Village pleases Town Council

Brent Gardner-Smith
Aspen Times Staff Writer

The new village proposed by Intrawest and the Aspen Skiing Co. for the base of the Snowmass Ski Area is now in the hands of the Snowmass Village Planning Commission.

The large, complicated project was referred to the volunteer reviewing board Wednesday night after Snowmass Village Town Council members reeled off a list of issues they want to see addressed.

Near the top of the list is the proposed changes to the lift system at the bottom of the ski area.

The Skico is proposing to remove several base-area lifts, including the Fanny Hill lift. Installed would be a new gondola to Elk Camp, an open-air “cabriolet” lift between the new village and the Snowmass Mall, and a new high-speed quad to the top of Sam’s Knob to replace the Burlingame lift.

The lift plan is being questioned by both council members and citizens in Snowmass, who aren’t convinced that it will improve access to the upper mountain.

Snowmass Village Mayor T. Michael Manchester suggested that the plan ought to include two gondolas directly out of the new village, with one heading to Elk Camp and another going to Sam’s Knob.

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Bill Kane, Skico vice president of planning and development, told the council and the planning-commission members that the proposed lift plan was not solely designed to improve the repeat-skiing options on the mountain.

Instead, Kane said, the new lifts, especially the Elk Camp gondola, are designed to also provide a good experience at night and in the summer, and in the case of the cabriolet lift on Fanny Hill, to provide a strong connection between Base Village and the mall.

The Skico plans to review the lift plan in detail with the planning commission on April 10.

Until then, the commission members will be looking at a host of other concerns, including transportation and parking, the mass and scale of the proposed buildings, some of which are eight stories tall, and how the new village will work with the existing mall area.

The proposal from Intrawest suggests that both the mall and the stores and restaurants in the new village can both thrive, especially if they are connected by the cabriolet lift.

But the mall-vs.-Base Village question has long dominated discussion of how to develop the 14-acre site at the base of the ski area, and it still remains unresolved.

Manchester said he was still “extremely anxious” about the issue.

“We need to be very comfortable that this concept is going to work,” Manchester said. “It’s an issue that is bigger than Base Village.”

Intrawest Vice President Paul Shepherd told the council that the company is working with owners and business operators in the mall area to develop a strategy that answers the question of how two ski-in, ski-out commercial centers in Snowmass Village will work.

Manchester also said he hoped that Intrawest would realign the proposed cabriolet lift so that it would go in a straight line from the mall, to the village and then on across Brush Creek Road to the Snowmass Center.

Other issues that the Town Council wanted the planning commission to make a recommendation on include if employee housing should be built inside the new village, how several proposed land trades involving town land would work, and how intersection and road systems in the village would be affected.

The planning commission is scheduled to meet every Wednesday afternoon at 4 to review the conceptual plan. On March 13, the board will discuss whether the project is consistent with the town’s master plan. On March 20, traffic and parking are on the agenda.

The commission is scheduled to make its recommendations to the Town Council by May 8.