Six vie for Snowmass town manager job |

Six vie for Snowmass town manager job

Steve AlldredgeSnowmass Village correspondent

Aspen, CO ColoradoSNOWMASS VILLAGE The Town of Snowmass Village has narrowed its search for a new town manager down to six finalists, and two of the names will be familiar to residents of the Roaring Fork Valley.The Town Council, with the assistance of Phil McKenney of Peckham & McKenney, a California-based executive search firm, has selected the finalists to come to Snowmass Village for a round of interviews.The council and I went through a lengthy process in looking at all the candidates, said McKenney. They felt the most comfortable and look forward to meeting and participating in the process with these six finalists. Its a strong field of candidates. I think its interesting to note that five out of six of these finalists have masters degrees.The finalists are: Tom Baker, the current town manager of Carbondale. Baker has a degree from the Illinois Institute of Technology and earned his masters degree at the University of Colorado at Denver. Baker has worked for Snowmass Village before as a contract planner, as well as the city of Aspen as the assistant town manager and executive director of the Aspen/Pitkin County Housing Authority. Baker was also the town manager in Basalt. Russell Forrest, the director of community development for the town of Vail. Forrest earned his bachelors and masters degrees from the University of Illinois. He served in the U.S. Army as an environmental planner and a fellow at the Army Environmental Policy Institute. Forrest has experience dealing with diverse constituencies while managing the billion-dollar redevelopment currently going on in Vail. Jason Haber, the current economic resource director for the town of Snowmass Village. Haber came to Snowmass from the city of Santa Barbara and received his degree from the University of California at Santa Barbara. He has worked on several town projects including Town Hall, West Village Revitalization Plan and the relocation of the service station. Jay Harrington was most recently the town manager in Telluride and also served in that capacity for the town of Pagosa Springs. He has a degree from Saint Lawrence University and a masters from the University of Colorado at Denver. He has managed construction of a town hall and overseen affordable housing projects. Mark Relph is the public works and utilities director for the city of Grand Junction. He has a degree from California State Polytechnic University and a masters from the University of Colorado at Denver. He has lived on the Western Slope for more than 25 years and has managed various large-scale municipal projects during that time. Greg Sparks is currently the city administrator for Owatonna, Minn. Sparks has a degree from the University of Northern Iowa and a masters from the University of Nevada. He was the city manager for Alamosa, Colo. in the 1980s and has spent virtually all of his vacation time in the Colorado mountains since 1982.The six finalists will come to Snowmass on Jan. 18 and 19 and will meet with an advisory search committee that the Town Council created in December. The candidates will attend a social on Thursday evening to meet and greet town citizens, town staff and the interviewers in an informal setting. Interested citizens are invited to meet the candidates in the Club Room at the Snowmass Club from 6-7:30 p.m. on Jan. 18. Light appetizers and a cash bar will be available.The advisory search committee is comprised of three senior members of the towns staff Hunt Walker, Marianne Rakowski and Art Smythe, as well as T. Michael Manchester, Jeanette Darnauer, Paul Taddune and Rick Griffin. The final decision on selecting a new town manager rests with the five-member Town Council.A new town manager will receive a base salary of between $115,000 and $140,000. Additional perks include housing, full health benefits, a car allowance, cell phone allowance and relocation assistance.With the number of major and minor construction projects currently under way or planned in Snowmass Village, the job will likely prove challenging.In the brochure the executive search firm created for the position, it notes that the town is seeking a visionary leader with unquestionable ethics and integrity and the ability to accomplish agreed upon goals in a collaborative way. The brochure notes that the town is looking for someone who has the ability to effectively and realistically manage complex public processes and who has experience in significant public and private infrastructure improvements. Given the nature of the Snowmass community, it should be no surprise that one of the positions requirements is feeling comfortable in an environment where community input is expected, welcomed and abundant.Steve Alldredge is a reporter for the Snowmass Sun. His e-mail address is