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Snowmass sharpens Town Park plan: Changes made for rodeo, wildlife

A sign marks the entrance to Town Park off of Brush Creek Road in Snowmass Village.
Kaya Williams/The Aspen Times

The Snowmass Village Town Council lassoed some loose ends this week in their plans for the Town Park.

The council unanimously agreed to add a much-discussed warmup area for rodeo contestants as part of approving the special review application for phase one as Ordinance No. 5.

The revised plan for the Town Park application incorporates the recommendations from the Planning Commission’s meeting on July 13, as well as additional conditions the council decided on, including a commitment not to disrupt more than a tenth of an acre of wetlands before an additional environmental assessment is completed.



RODEO CHANGES

Sara Tie, who is part of the design team creating the new plans, said there have been several changes to the plan since the last meeting. The Roaring Fork Valley Horse Council and the Snowmass Western Heritage Association’s chief complaints concerned the lack of a warmup area for contestants. The new plan addressed that.

Other changes include larger pens for the bucking mares, a barrel racer entry and exit for direct access from the warmup area to the arena, improved vehicular access during the event, two new bucking chutes, back pens for stock, an area for roping ending in a stripping chute, relocated return alleys, double fencing to further separate contestants from the arena, a shifted loading/unloading area and the potential for an addition of a bleacher section for rodeo competitors’ family.




“I think this is great. I think it addressed all these operational needs,” Tie said. “I think when we came together (with organizations) on our second meeting.”

IMPACT ON WILDLIFE

Birders worried in previous discussions that the ecosystem would be harmed by the new Town Park design.

But Jonathan Lowsky, principal wildlife ecologist and wildfire mitigation expert at Colorado Wildlife Science, said the loss of wetlands proposed by the plan will not cause any declines in local wildlife populations. Though some species may leave during the construction phase of the project, they will likely return within three years, according to Lowsky.

Councilman Bob Sirkus expressed concern that the space would not be optimized for other activities.

“It’s designed as a rodeo first, and that’s first and foremost,” Town Manager Clint Kinney said. “Any event that can happen on a rodeo arena can happen, but it’s a rodeo arena first.

Though the council wants the space to be usable for events other than the rodeo, such as an ice rink, the surface agreed upon by the SWHA and design team — angular washed sand on top of a road base — is incompatible with an ice rink.

Councilman Tom Fridstein took issue with a reference to 60-foot poles for lighting and telecom equipment included in the ordinance, as if a given, he said.

“We don’t want 60-foot poles,” he said.

The council agreed to revise the language to mandate a maximum height for the light poles. The specific height will be reviewed and the design team and determined at a later date.

With the approval of the ordinance, the council has set a clear path for how to progress with the Town Park redesign.

The council’s next step will be to work with the design team to finalize the details of the plan and with the contractor and Snowmass Western Heritage Association to finalize construction details, according to Kinney.

“With the unanimous approval of the Town Council on Monday, the decades-old question of how to complete Town Park and the entryway to Town was answered,” Kinney said in an email.

Anna Meyer is an editorial intern at The Aspen Times for part of the summer. She will be a sophomore at Vassar College this fall.


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