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Snowmass doubles its virus relief fund contribution

Snowmass Town Council doubled its contribution to Pitkin County’s COVID-19 relief fund with the passage of a second emergency ordinance at its regular meeting Monday night.

The $100,000 contribution approved Monday comes two weeks after council OK’d the initial $100,000 the town allocated for COVID-19 relief April 6.

“I think it’s fair to say these dollars are coming right back to us to help the community,” said Clint Kinney, town manager of Snowmass Village. “As town manager I support this contribution, we have reserves, we’re able to afford it, so if Town Council desires I would absolutely recommend the approval of this emergency ordinance.”

At Monday’s regular meeting, Kinney told Town Council that as of Thursday, more than $98,000 had been distributed from the county’s COVID-19 relief fund to village residents in need. He said the village has received roughly 16% of the overall relief funds, with most being requested for food and shelter.

More than 250 residents had applied for COVID-19 relief from the county as of Thursday with more than 100 of those applicants noting they live in the town’s deed-restricted housing, Kinney said.

After little discussion, council members unanimously approved to put the additional money toward COVID-19 relief and stressed the need for continued focus on caring for the village community.

Outside of approving further relief funds, Town Council also discussed other updates and changes to the COVID-19 response in Snowmass Village. In light of the changes made last week to the county’s existing public health order that go into effect Thursday, town staff is working closely with county officials to identify the key public health, hygiene and social distancing protocols that need to be in place in order for construction sites to reopen.

Construction project officials in Snowmass will need to submit site safety plans to the town community development department for approval before work can resume. The submittal process is set to begin Thursday and construction may be approved as early as Monday, Kinney said. Details on Snowmass construction site safety requirements will soon be available at tosv.com/covid.

Similar safety plan requirements will be available on the town website for landscaping, general lawn care and other general property maintenance that does not require any town permits. These non-permitted projects do not need staff approval and can begin as early as Thursday, town officials said.

Other changes to the existing stay-at-home public health order include recognizing bike repair shops and office supply stores as essential businesses, and allowing golf courses to operate with submission and approval of a business safety plan, along with assurance that social distancing requirements will be strictly followed, according to county documents.

Rick Sussman, general manager and chief operating officer of the Snowmass Club, said the club plans to open its golf course May 15 and is working through what its safety plan and measures to maintain social distancing will look like.

“Our membership expects us more than anywhere to be a safe haven, so we are doing our best to ensure we provide a golf experience that aligns with the new norms and to understand what those new norms will be,” Sussman said.

“We’ll be ready for our members and guests and look forward to when they can come back.”

At the Monday council meeting, town officials also acknowledged the ever-changing nature of the COVID-19 response and the slow, gradual rollback of the county’s public health orders and social distancing requirements anticipated in the coming weeks.

As town staff look ahead to June, many of the events scheduled to kick off summer in the village have been rescheduled to August, including the Saturday night free concert and Snowmass Rendezvous Craft Beer Festival originally set for June 13; the Thursday night concert previously scheduled for June 18; and the annual Heritage Fire food and drink festival that was set for June 20, said Snowmass Tourism Director Rose Abello after Monday’s council meeting.

Abello said the only event that has been outright canceled so far is the Ragnar Trail Colorado race that was set for June 12 and 13, and that tourism staff are working to keep summer events on the schedule — even if it means rescheduling for later in the summer — while respecting and adhering to public health guidelines. A continuously updated schedule of summer events in Snowmass can be found at gosnowmass.com.

“Snowmass will be 100% lawful with any event we do and will not only go with the letter of the public health mandates but with the spirit as well,” Abello said. “We hope we’ll be able to put forth an exciting, fun event schedule this summer but are ready and willing to pivot any way we have to.”

Moving forward, town officials like Abello and Mayor Markey Butler said they are remaining optimistic as Pitkin County inches toward gradually unwinding the public health orders and will continue to adapt in order to do what’s best for the village community.

“We need to continue to stay positive and focused on the word hope for all of our community,” Butler said.

mvincent@aspentimes.com


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