Blumenthal: New town manager sets better course | AspenTimes.com

Blumenthal: New town manager sets better course

Mel Blumenthal
Second View

Mel Blumenthal

It appears our new town manager, Clint Kinney, who took command last week is starting off on the right foot. As laid out in an interview in last Saturday's Aspen Daily News, he's committed to taking a slow and cautious approach. He says he "plan(s) on listening a whole lot for a long time and figuring out what needs to be done." "(T)he town has been run really well and is in great shape."

Sounds great, and clearly what the new guy in town would be expected to say on his arrival, but based on what I'm told he's much savvier and in tune with the real Snowmass than those words might convey. Let's not forget he served as the unwitting pawn in many months of dysfunctional discourse that occupied the hearts and minds of our elected representatives. Since most of their bad behavior played out publicly in our local press and on our TVs and computer screens, it's unlikely Clint comes to the job totally oblivious to all the blood that was spilled leading up to his engagement.

I've not met him yet, but based upon my research and what I've heard from others, I anticipate Clint is the right guy to move us forward in a smart and collegial manner, particularly with respect to the two critical issues currently facing our community: completion of Base Village and the entryway.

And how could you not like this guy who on arrival declared aspects of the village "so fun, it's giggly fun"? Hopefully we'll all have lots of fun working together to make this little piece of paradise the best it can be.

If that sounds crazy to you, it is.

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Unfortunately fun has not been the modus operandi of the town's governing body during the past year. But in November with the election of a new mayor and council, hopefully including some new blood, a more thoughtful, sensitive and collegial group of representatives will emerge and along with the new town manager do good and productive work in the best interests of our resort community.

In his last interview with the Sun earlier this month, Gary Suiter pointed out that he left his mark on Town Hall by hiring four new department heads. Unfortunately, in my opinion, his appointment of the new community development director has not turned out to be the best possible choice he could have made for our community. Julie Ann Woods appears to have come to this job with her own agenda in tact, which appears in conflict with the majority of comments and concerns expressed by residents. She clearly appears to be in direct lockstep with just about everything put forward by our 800-pound local developer and without a strong hand at the helm to temper her actions, we've been rushing through a very complex process fraught with all kinds of danger signals.

The review she conducted in front of Town Council two weeks ago was a trainwreck and likely would not have been tolerated by our new town manager had he been on the job at that time.

Fortunately this rush to an approval came to a sudden halt at this week's council meeting when it became clear that neither the town's department heads nor council members had been given adequate time to review additional revisions that Related once again had submitted at the 11th hour.

Up to now this rushed process led by Ms. Woods has also been championed by a slim council majority, consisting of Mayor Bill Boineau and council members Markey Butler and Fred Kucker. Along with Ms. Woods, they all appear to have been hell-bent on giving Related all that it's asking for, even if it means ignoring land-use protocols that have been in place in our community for many years. I'd be willing to wager a few bucks that our new and experienced town manager will set us on a better course going forward.

Clearly what's been going on in this review process so far is ass backwards. Related and the town have both said repeatedly that neither wants to see what was originally approved for Base Village go forward to completion. Related has said it will present a whole new plan for the completion of Base Village by Oct. 15; however, it wants to extend its vested development rights for an additional four or five years on a plan it has no intention of executing. If that sounds crazy to you, it is.

Much of the new plan has already been previewed by Related and on the surface looks very tempting, but we've been down this grand road with Related many times before and it has continually let us down when it came time to put its plans in writing.

Let's learn from our past mistakes and offer Related a short extension sufficient to get through the extensive review and approval process that will be required of its new application and then determine the appropriate length of vested rights necessary to complete Base Village as finally approved. Unfortunately the community development director and the three-member council majority have not been paying attention to the stated desires of their constituents, including those who've been showing up at recent council meetings imploring them to slow down and follow our well-established community land-use rules and protocol.

By the way, it appears the primary rush to approve Related's request for a long vesting extension is to get them to agree to accelerate the building of a Brush Creek/Wood road roundabout, which very few in our community thinks is necessary or functionally feasible at this point in time and certainly not worth giving away the town's leverage to Related before we've seen their full and formal plans for the completion of Base Village.

Hopefully our new town manager will bring some sharper and more responsible thinking as well as sanity to the process.

Your input as always is appreciated at secondview@earthlink.net.