Discovery center in Snowmass Base Village not a done deal | AspenTimes.com

Discovery center in Snowmass Base Village not a done deal

Jill Beathard
Snowmass Sun

A home base for Snowmass Discovery’s programming is included in Related Colorado’s new Base Village application, and the developer is touting it as a benefit that fulfills its commitment to a community-purpose facility in the project.

However, no deal has been formalized between the two organizations, and while representatives of the nonprofit say the space being offered would work and have supported the idea, they also say it might not be the most ideal place to showcase the findings from the 2010-11 dig at Ziegler Reservoir.

Tom Cardamone, executive director of Snowmass Discovery, read letters and comments from the nonprofit’s consultants to the Town Council on Feb. 17. One was from Andrew Anway, who helped the nonprofit last year to conduct a study on the most appropriate size, cost and character of a potential facility.

The results of that study suggested the attraction have a central location with exhibits and programs as well as some dispersed sites throughout the village and near the dig site. It also recommended some size dimensions and estimated revenue and operating costs for the primary center.

It also landed on Base Village as the best location for that center, although Cardamone said at the time that was still up for discussion. When Related submitted its new plans for Base Village in October, it proposed an already-completed space currently housing Snowmass Hospitality’s check-in office for the discovery center.

“When we produced our feasibility report and conceptual plan … we identified a possible location for Snowmass Discovery based on a preliminary discussion,” Cardamone read from Anway’s letter. “This space while workable was not ideal because of ceiling heights and a two-floor configuration. If there is an opportunity to secure space in a new construction this would undoubtably be preferred.”

As the Base Village developer, Related is currently required to build an aquatic center that would serve a “community purpose” as defined in the town’s land-use code. Related is no longer proposing to build that as planned, which most residents and town board members agree with, but it hasn’t been determined whether the combination of the smaller pool and discovery center, apparently not a sure bet on the part of the nonprofit, will fly as the developer’s new community-purpose facility.

The Snowmass Village Planning Commission is currently reviewing the application and questioned the value of those facilities to the community in its first meeting on the subject. That board is scheduled to complete its recommendation to the Town Council on Feb. 25.

Related hasn’t said whether it will offer a different location in Base Village for the center or otherwise alter its community-purpose offering. It will have to take feedback from the town into account as the land-use review of its application moves forward, though.

“We’re focused on listening at the Planning Commission about the sketch-plan process,” said Steve Alldredge, spokesman for Related Colorado. “We’re looking forward to conversations with Town Council in March.”

Snowmass Discovery moves forward

At the Feb. 17 meeting, the Town Council was considering a $15,000 funding request from Snowmass Discovery to help pay for a study determining how successful a fundraising campaign for the new center would be. While they ultimately approved the request, Mayor Markey Butler and Councilman Bob Sirkus were concerned about how not knowing the location would impact the study.

“What we’re seeking to build goes beyond any physical structure,” said John Rigney, chairman of the Snowmass Discovery board. “I do think that holding it down because we don’t have the address or the exact dimensions, I think that would just stall us. … We really need to vet as many arenas as we can to understand how we can go about fundraising.”

Council members Chris Jacobson, Alyssa Shenk and Bill Madsen supported granting the funding request.

“The momentum is sort of dying,” Shenk said. “You have to pick it up. … It’s up to the town to step up and help you.”

Madsen added that the study, which will examine support from the area as well as the state and country, could show the nonprofit is capable of raising more funds than anticipated and that could impact the options for a location.

“It may come back that you’re not ready,” Butler cautioned.

Despite she and Sirkus’ hesitation, the council voted in favor of the funding request, 5-0.

jill@snowmasssun.com


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