Snowmass names new town manager

Steve Alldredge
Snowmass Village correspondent
Vail Community Development Director Russ Forrest, who has been overseen some of the most widespread redevelopment in the town's history, has been hired to be town manager in Snowmass Village. (Contributed photo)

Aspen, CO Colorado

SNOWMASS VILLAGE ” The Town of Snowmass Village has a new town manager ” Russell Forrest of Vail.

Last Thursday, six candidates came to Snowmass to meet with the Town Council, town staffers, a local citizens’ search committee and members of the general public. They came from as far away as Minnesota and as close as local government ” finalist Jason Haber is the town’s economic resource director.

In the end, it was Forrest who was offered the position. His first day on the job will be March 5.

“I am thrilled, excited and looking forward to the challenges ahead,” said Forrest, reached by phone at his Vail office. “I’m looking forward to working with the community and the town staff.”

“It was an interesting and fulfilling selection process,” said Mayor Doug “Merc” Mercatoris. “We had a better opportunity to find the right fit for Snowmass this time around. Russell brings to Snowmass a really good set of skills at a really important time. Of all the candidates, he seemed ideally suited for the position because of his style and his desire to build consensus and bring the community together on some of the tough issues.”

Forrest earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Illinois. He served in the U.S. Army as an environmental planner and a fellow at the Army Environmental Policy Institute.

As the community development director in Vail, he has had experience dealing with diverse constituencies during the resort’s billion-dollar redevelopment. At a social event last week, he discussed some of the issues he has faced in Vail with the Lionshead redevelopment, as well as solutions to mitigating some of the impacts of that construction.

“We’re excited to get someone with resort experience,” said John Dresser, town attorney for Snowmass Village. “With all the development that’s going on in Vail, we think his experience will apply nicely in Snowmass Village.”

Snowmass Village is undergoing its own redevelopment with the construction of a new base village.

Forrest was selected from a field of 88 interested applicants that was narrowed down to six finalists by the Town Council and a consultant from a California-based executive search firm. The finalists came to Snowmass Village late last week for two days of interviews and a public social event. The selection was aided by input from an industrial psychologist. A citizen committee also met with the six finalists.

“I think the process went very well,” said T. Michael Manchester, former mayor and a member of that citizen committee. “Russell is a very good selection, and we had many good things to say about him. I thought he was extremely articulate and understood well the communication needs of politics. He also had a great deal of experience working with a large staff.”

Forrest will live in the Snowmass Village’s town manager house at The Crossings. His salary will be noted in an official announcement that is expected later this week, along with perks in addition to the rent-free housing.

Forrest, 41, is married with two children, 6- and 9-year-old boys. His wife, Carolyn, is a kindergarten teacher. After the end of the current school year, the kids will be transferring to schools in the Roaring Fork Valley.