Snowmass development director Denver-bound
Another high-level staff member in the town of Snowmass Village has resigned.
Community Development Director Steve Ferris has accepted a position with the city and county of Denver after working for Snowmass Village for one year. He is the fourth management-level staff member to resign or retire from the town this year, including Town Manager Russ Forrest, whose last day is Thursday.
Ferris had planned to move to Snowmass Village with his family, but they have remained in the Denver area over the past year. The cost of living presented a challenge for them, and Ferris had been interested in the position in Denver before accepting the one in Snowmass.
“It was a challenge, and then this opportunity came along, and it was really impossible to pass up,” Ferris said. “I originally talked to the mayor (of Denver) about this in 2011. … It was always something that I was very interested in.”
Ferris will be director of development services for the office of Mayor Michael B. Hancock. His last day is expected to be Aug. 6.
Gary Suiter, who is starting as interim town manager Thursday, will oversee the process of filling Ferris’ position. Suiter said he wants to get the “lay of the land” at Town Hall before deciding whether to appoint an acting or interim department head. Suiter has a planning background, and one alternative would be for him to act as director while town manager.
“I have done that before,” said Suiter, who has worked for other town governments. “But sometimes that can spread you pretty thin.”
Lots of development activity is pending in Snowmass, especially regarding Base Village. The application for a minor amendment to the planned-unit development of Building 13B is due to go before the Town Council Aug. 5, for which Ferris will be present.
“I think from a continuity standpoint you’ve got (Town Attorney) John Dresser that knows all the ins and outs of the applications, of Base Village, of the development agreements, so I think he plays and will play a key role in terms of continuity and supporting the council in their decision-making,” Forrest said. “Then the other thing is Gary Suiter knows the community, knows the staff, knows the town, and he’s got a planning background like I do, so he’s well-equipped.”
Ferris also named planner Jim Wahlstrom as an experienced staff member who will play a big role in the process.
“As it changes, it’s going to require leadership from the council to deal with, as well,” Ferris said.
Snowmass Village reserves more decision-making for the Town Council than other jurisdictions, Ferris said.
“It makes it more political, and that’s just the way it is, and I think that’s the way Snowmass likes it, and that’s fine,” Ferris said. “It’s not so much you want administrative authority from me, the authority or the director. It’s more like sometimes it’s easier to work with a board that’s less political. … It doesn’t help to have a council fighting with each other.”
That fighting didn’t play into Ferris’ decision, he said.
“It was already something I wanted to do,” Ferris said. “They could have been in love with each other. … I still would’ve taken the job.”
Ferris said he wishes he could have accomplished more with Base Village.
“I’ve really enjoyed working there,” he said. “It’s a good group of people. Everyone has the best interests at heart. Probably my only regret is I wish Related (Cos.) had been more active last fall instead of now.”
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It might be public service serving on Aspen City Council but it doesn’t pay enough, the majority of electeds say. That’s why they are proposing to give their successors a $12,000 raise.