Snowmass interest in Base Village surges
Aspen Times Staff Writer
In the first of a series of meetings regarding the future of Snowmass Village, more than 200 residents assembled at the Fairway Center to offer their suggestions.
The meetings were organized by the Snowmass Village Town Council in response to public criticism over what some say is a lack of communication involving the proposed Base Village project.
“This is the first of what will probably be many meetings,” said Snowmass Village Mayor T. Michael Manchester. “The council is here to listen.”
After a brief introduction, the public was divided into five focus groups, each monitored by one of the five Town Council members.
The arguments surrounding Base Village have been stark – people were either clearly in favor of, or opposed to, the project. Last month, several residents called for a moratorium and even threatened a referendum if things didn’t change.
Last night’s meeting was different. While many people expressed concern over the proposed size of Base Village, they also vocalized their feeling that Snowmass Village needs a savior. The discussion among all groups tended to focus on the lagging economic vitality of Snowmass Village as a resort, coupled with a decreasing sense of community. While the majority of the public admitted that Snowmass Village needs something, exactly what it needs remained unresolved.
“Snowmass Village started as a resort, and a community grew from within it,” Manchester said. “For either part to be successful, the other part has to be healthy.”
“You can’t put your arms around this, it’s just so big,” said Councilman Arnie Mordkin about Base Village and the diversity of opinions it has created. “You can’t be conversant with all the facets.”
The Base Village project, a joint proposal by the Aspen Skiing Co. and resort developer Intrawest, would add 635 condos, 10 townhomes, 180 employee units, 184,000 square feet of nonresidential space (including 94,000 square feet of restaurant and retail), parking for 1,100 cars and 20 homesites in nearby Sinclair Meadows. The project is slated for the bottom of Fanny Hill.
“I don’t want Breckenridge, I don’t want Vail,” said Morris Cohen, a Snowmass Village resident. “I live in a community, not a truck stop.”
Bob Bayless, also a village resident, said Snowmass Village needs something to draw people to the resort.
“I’m totally supportive of Base Village,” Bayless said. “It will serve our critical mass needs so we can bring some life to [the village.]”
“I moved here because of the quality of life,” said Jeff Tippett, a former Snowmass Village Mayor who was a member of the Town Council for 17 years. “[We] don’t need to approve developments that compromise the quality of life. I know now [Base Village] is too big.”
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In the 2022 iteration of the statewide Teaching and Learning Conditions Colorado survey, 19 educators from Aspen public schools reported that they were considering leaving the field of education altogether at the end of this school year. That accounts for almost 13% of the Aspen School District staff members who completed the survey this year.