Snowmass Nexus, Discovery at odds over use of Base Village Building 6 |

Snowmass Nexus, Discovery at odds over use of Base Village Building 6

Erica Robbie
The Aspen Times

As Snowmass Nexus and the town government move forward with plans for Building 6 of Base Village, the role that Snowmass Discovery will play inside the community space — if any — is clear as mud.

To date, Snowmass Nexus’ proposal to occupy the Base Village structure does not include the Snowmass Discovery nonprofit or showcasing the largest fossil discovery in Colorado history that occurred at Ziegler Reservoir between 2010 and 2011.

As part of Base Village’s original approvals, the developers will build and grant Building 6 to the town of Snowmass upon its completion in November.

Paul Menter of Snowmass Nexus — a partnership between GrassRoots TV and Colorado Audio Visual and Design — said Wednesday, “Snowmass Discovery was not incorporated into our proposal because the town didn’t indicate it as a requirement.”

Snowmass Nexus “has been waiting to hear back from (Snowmass) Discovery” for some time, Menter said.

Snowmass Discovery Chairman John Rigney, however, sees the situation differently.

In partnership with Snowmass Discovery and the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies, curating a home for some of the findings, which uncovered the most mastodons (36) ever found in the world, was the town’s original intent for the building. However, ACES on Sept. 5 declined to lead the project for financial reasons.

“I can say honestly, I haven’t heard a peep from Nexus since (December),” Rigney said Monday.

Snowmass town staff requested a meeting with the two parties Dec. 12 to “figure out a way to incorporate (Snowmass) Discovery into our proposal,” Menter said.

By Menter’s account, Rigney declined Nexus’ proposal involving a small virtual-reality space within the facility.

Rigney contends that Snowmass Nexus “didn’t propose anything to us in this meeting.”

“A lot of stuff was discussed, but there was no offer. (Nexus was) kind of telling a dual audience what they’re looking to do. (Ice Age Discovery Center paleontologist) Stephanie (Lukowski) made a passionate plea that there’s something to the see, touch, feel element, but there was nothing in the meeting to follow up on.”

Rigney added, “In that meeting, I got the distinct feeling that (Nexus was) only looking to have (Snowmass) Discovery in their programming if they were basically told to do so.”

Later that same week, Menter and fellow Nexus officials Michael Burns and John Masters toured the Ice Age Discovery center on the Snowmass Mall.

Lukowski led the tour, Menter said, with the goal of determining “how we could try and include (Snowmass) Discovery in (Building 6).”

Between mid-December and early January, Colorado Audio Visual and Design produced a “short virtual reality example of how we could display the artifacts” within Building 6, Menter said.

Nexus representatives on Jan. 10 presented the VR model before Snowmass town staff members at a meeting, according to Menter.

“My recollection is that (Lukowski) was in attendance representing Discovery but (Rigney) was not there,” Menter said.

Rigney said he was not invited to or made aware of the Jan. 10 meeting.

“We considered the ball to be in (Snowmass Discovery’s) court after that meeting but did not hear back from them,” Menter said. “So we figured their board had decided not to go forward with us.”

Rigney, however, said, “I was never handed anything that said we were supposed to react to it.”

“There is no ball to be played because I haven’t been asked anything or offered anything,” he said. “Absolutely, unequivocally, I’m not aware of being offered anything.”

If any ball is in play, Rigney said, it falls within the town of Snowmass’ court.

“If (the town wants) the prospective tenant of Building 6 to allocate space and dedicate programming to sharing the ice age story because they feel it’s super important, then they can choose to make that a condition of the new tenant’s lease.”

While Menter said Nexus is “ready and willing to sit down with Snowmass Discovery to talk about their involvement” in Building 6, he added, “it’s not our job to present options to them until they say yes.”

Snowmass Nexus is expected to review the lease terms and building operations Monday with the Town Council.

Rigney made clear that “it isn’t about (Snowmass Discovery)” the nonprofit, “it’s about the find.”

“This is a treasure of ours as a community. And sharing it, I believe, is a critical element to our story as a community.”