Snowmass councilwoman hopes to assess Krabloonik’s lease compliance ‘sooner rather than later’ |

Snowmass councilwoman hopes to assess Krabloonik’s lease compliance ‘sooner rather than later’

March 14 work session proposed ‘to discuss how certain aspects of the lease are not being met,’ town manager says

A Krabloonik morning dog sled tour traverses Divide Road in Snowmass Village on Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2022. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)

Snowmass Village Town Council could assess Krabloonik Dog Sledding’s lease with the town as soon as March 14 after Councilwoman Alyssa Shenk raised concerns about potential violations at a March 7 regular council meeting.

Krabloonik leases the property on Divide Road from the town at a rate of $10 per year through 2026. The lease includes a commitment to abide by state requirements through Colorado’s Pet Animal Care Facilities Act and a commitment to follow Best Practices Plan that was established about seven years ago through mutual agreement between Krabloonik and the town.

“I think, as the landlord, that it is incumbent upon us to either have a discussion with the tenant to address what I perceive as violations of the requirements of the Best Practices, or to issue a letter of default, because I do think it rises to that level,” Shenk said.

A Feb. 8 report stated Krabloonik has complied with their “minimum contractual requirements“ but also identified several lapses in the commitments Krabloonik made in that Best Practices Plan. An investigation and inspection by PACFA identified several violations to state regulations to be corrected; another investigation by the program is ongoing.

Also, Town Council members and town staff have received emails from advocates expressing concerns about operations at the facility, according to emails acquired by The Snowmass Sun via a Colorado Open Records Act request.

Town Manager Clint Kinney clarified during the March 7 meeting that the proposed March 14 conversation will be “to discuss how certain aspects of the lease are not being met.”

Shenk’s comments came after interviews with two prospective members for the Best Practices Review Committee, Bill Fabrocini and Karyn Spiropolous.

That committee is supposed to have six members — three appointed by the town as landlord and three appointed by Krabloonik as tenant — but it was down to just one person, the town-appointed Seth Sachson, after a series of resignations from other members for different reasons.

The Town Council unanimously appointed Fabrocini and Spiropoulos to the two open town seats on the six-member board at the March 7 meeting.

As of Monday evening, Krabloonik had not yet formally appointed anyone to its three open seats, Kinney said at the meeting. Kinney indicated Krabloonik would make its appointments after the town filled its vacancies.

Councilman Tom Goode said he would like to see the entire Best Practices Review Committee meet with council once all the seats are filled. According to the lease, the committee is required to file annual reports addressed to the town manager and distributed to the council, but the lease does not stipulate that the committee must appear before council in a meeting to discuss their findings.

“I’ve lived here for 49 years. I’m aware of what’s going on and what’s happening up on the hill, and now I’d like to take it a little bit further with the committee reporting to council,” Goode said.

Shenk and councilman Bob Sirkus acknowledged the importance of reconvening the Best Practices Review Committee and said that addressing the alleged lapses in lease commitments is a separate issue to be promptly addressed.

“I’ve had a lot of conversations in the last month, and I’ve read the lease, and I’ve read the Best Practices, and I have made a lot of notes and read things that other people have sent to me,” Shenk said. “And I really, truly feel like I know why we have this committee, and I think it’s very important to have that committee, but I also think that there are violations that have been brought to our attention, that don’t have anything to do with them necessarily making a report to us.”

Sirkus said he agreed with Shenk that “the committee and what has happened in the past couple of months are two different things.”

Shenk pushed for the conversation about the lease to happen “sooner rather than later.” Mayor Bill Madsen proposed the March 14 work session as the date.

Kinney said he could “certainly invite” Krabloonik owners Danny and Gina Phillips but was not aware of their availability at the time.

“I think it’s really important. I think it’s timely. … (March 14) is not too soon for me,” Shenk said.

About the appointees

Bill Fabrocini, who lives in Snowmass Village, according to his application with the town, co-founded the advocacy group Voices for the Krabloonik Dogs (later renamed Voices for the Sled Dogs) and was an active member from 2010-15 before taking a hiatus for several years.

“New information came my way as it has (to) all of us in the last several weeks, couple months, and that’s what got my interest back and kind of investigating and doing my due diligence to try to understand the situation better,” Fabrocini told the council. “That’s why I’m back.”

Karyn Spiropoulos, who lives in Carbondale, is a longtime valley resident who expressed in her application and in her interview a keen interest in sled dog operations inspired by her daughter’s interest in dog sled racing. She has visited several kennels in Alaska and also has visited Krabloonik, she said.

“I’m just really interested in the actual function of it and working dogs and just kind of the concept behind it. … From seeing what I did, I understand how it can — like, there’s just so much more to it, there’s so much that the kennel can offer,” Spiropoulos told the council. “And I just think I’ve seen, sort of, more sides of it, of what part of a community they can be, what they can offer to the public, what they can offer to the dogs.”

Fabrocini and Spiropolous identified a need for more clarity in the language of the Best Practices Plan. Fabrocini said he also would like the committee to have the authority to cross-reference evidence to ensure Krabloonik is in compliance with the plan.


What to know about the Entrance to Aspen

Next Monday, Feb. 13, the council will host a work session on the results of the city’s outreach on the aging New Castle Creek Bridge. Next-step recommendations are expected to be announced at the meeting.

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