Snowmass takes up Base Village community purpose question Tuesday |

Snowmass takes up Base Village community purpose question Tuesday

Jill Beathard
The Aspen Times

The Snowmass Village Town Council will take on the big question of what form of community benefit it will accept from Related Colorado in exchange for some variances on the Base Village project at tonight’s meeting.

Related has offered two options: a $4.5 million cash contribution that the town could put to whatever use it sees fit on an amenity outside the development, or building the shell of a facility that would be the future home of the Ice Age Discovery Center in the core of Base Village. With either option, Related plans to build a public plaza that can be used for an ice rink in the winter and other activities during the rest of the year, such as movie screenings, small concerts and patio dining.

The Planning Commission is negotiating up, however. The commissioners passed a resolution last week recommending that Related provide the plaza, the discovery center and a cash contribution in order to adequately balance all the variances it is requesting in its application to amend the current approvals for the stalled development.

Those include additional units in other buildings to compensate for the real estate currently planned for Building 6, where Related is proposing the discovery center, and expanding Buildings 10ab on the east side of the project, a change it will ask permission to add to its application Monday.

“The total community-purpose package proposed by the applicant is not sufficient to justify all of the variations proposed, in particular the new variations proposed,” the commission’s resolution states.

The Town Council will hear presentations from Related and Snowmass Discovery tonight. It’s possible that it will also hear yet another proposal if a member of the public decides to bring it forward: an idea gaining traction among some residents to use the cash contribution to build a discovery center on town-owned land, known as the Point Site, next to Town Hall.

Z Group Architects has made a preliminary design for that facility but didn’t present it to the Planning Commission, a decision that was made because of owner Jim Gustafson’s membership on that board, said Town Manager Clint Kinney. But Kinney said a member of the public could describe the idea to the council as an example of what could be done with the money.

“As you may know, we at Z-Group Architects have, at no cost, developed some preliminary concepts for the possibility of locating a community cultural facility at the Point Site that might accommodate the Snowmass Discovery Center as well as other uses such as a performing-arts venue, Aspen’s Science Center (if they are still interested in locating within Snowmass Village), etc.,” architect Melanie Noonan said in a written comment to the Planning Commission before last week’s meeting.

Choosing the cash contribution as Related’s community-purpose offering would not necessarily tie it to the Point Site concept, however, Kinney said.

As for Snowmass Discovery, its board unanimously agrees that its best chance at success with a facility is in Base Village, Chairman John Rigney said.

“The town needs to decide what’s best for the village, and as a resident, I wouldn’t want it handled any other way,” Rigney said. “As it relates to Snowmass Discovery, we think this world-class find would be best presented and celebrated right in the heart of Base Village. We’d want to build it in a fashion that would be a draw unto itself yet be additive to the existing Snowmass experience and provide vitality over the long haul for the village.”

Current owners lost in shuffle?

The current Base Village approvals include an aquatic center as a major community-purpose amenity. Many residents no longer have a strong desire to see an aqua center in Base Village, which is how the conversation of what Related could offer instead began earlier this year.

But Base Village owners who bought their units years ago feel that they are being shortchanged, as they purchased with the understanding that they would have a pool. Some of them are now fighting to at least be allowed access to a new pool that will be built near Buildings 10ab.

“If the applicant now wants to change the location, maybe make it a little bit smaller, as long as they give us a swimming pool somewhere convenient in Base Village,” said second-home owner Vicki Weinstein at the Aug. 24 council meeting.

While that request was met with support from the Town Council, Related Vice President of Development Craig Monzio said the company is hoping to make that pool private to those buildings. However, he also wanted to hold off on that discussion until the community-purpose talks began.

For second-home owner Bruce Smith, though, the smaller pool alternative won’t cut it.

“Although we all want (Base Village) to be completed, we also think the developers have an obligation to deliver what was originally promised,” Smith wrote in a letter to the council. “Let’s work together to make (Base Village) successful.”

Today’s meeting starts at 4 p.m. in Town Hall.