Snowmass Institute proposal wins some early supporters |

Snowmass Institute proposal wins some early supporters

Sarah S. Chung

The Snowmass Institute is still in the preliminary planning stage, but it has shown signs of clearing one hurdle.

It already has the initial support of three of its four potential neighbors.

The proposed institute is “not a think tank, not an academic institute, but is rather a for-profit learning center for the business community,” said Peter Moore, prospective founder of the center.

If approved, the business conference center would be located adjacent to the Divide subdivision, Krabloonik restaurant, a parking lot owned by the town of Snowmass Village, and a parcel of land owned by the Aspen Skiing Co.

Moore noted that an opportunity for the landowners in the area to swap parcels – a proposal that will be part of the institute’s development application – has met with enthusiasm.

So far the institute has the “cautious” backing of the Divide Homeowners Association, largely due to the group’s interest in seeing the town’s parking lot revert back to open space, said association President Dick Virtue.

The Krabloonik restaurant and dog-sled operation has also registered its support, and has even indicated a willingness to provide food service to the conference center, said Moore.

While the Town Council likes the idea of attracting conferences during the summer, several council members balked this week at the proposed size of the institute – 15,000 square feet.

“Bigger isn’t always better,” Councilman Kevin Costello said.

In response, Moore noted no more than 75 people would use the conference center at one time, but that sufficient room is needed for a main auditorium and three or four “break-out rooms.”

In addition, Moore stressed that the Snowmass Institute would not compete with local restaurants or lodging facilities. It would strictly be a meeting place for its conference attendees.

But Councilman Mark Brady said he wants the institute to offer a more tangible public benefit than merely bringing more business to the area.

“I think it has a lot of inherent merit,” Brady said, “but I’d like to have a larger public component, perhaps a guest lecture series.”

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