Ice Age efforts moving slowly | AspenTimes.com

Ice Age efforts moving slowly

Jill Beathard
Snowmass Sun

Snowmass Village elected officials learned Dec. 2 that efforts to create programming around the Snowmastodon discovery have not moved forward as much as they had hoped.

The Town Council in April approved budgeting $21,000 to hire a part-time executive director for the Ice Age Discovery Center. Earlier this year, the Ice Age Discovery Committee hired John McCarter, former CEO of the Field Museum in Chicago, as a consultant to help it find ways to leverage the 2010 fossil dig.

The council members expressed disappointment with the slow progress by the committee, particularly that a 501(c)(3) still had not been established.

"We've been messing around with this for more than two years," Councilwoman Markey Butler said.

"I feel like, no pun intended, we've been sticking in the mud and this thing has been moving at glacial speed," Councilman Chris Jacobson said. "It's hard to understand why it's moving at such a slow pace."

The Denver Museum of Nature and Science displayed some of the fossils in the center this summer, and a museum intern spent the season cleaning and repairing bones in the space. Jacobson said he wasn't sure if additional programming, such as a sand pit for kids to dig for bones in, ever came to fruition.

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"If it happened, then I stand corrected," he said.

Interim Town Manager Gary Suiter brought the issue to the council's attention during his report and suggested having a meeting with the committee. Tom Cardamone, who was hired as the part-time director, has been busy with other commitments, including to the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies, Suiter said. Cardamone is president and chief ecologist at ACES.

"I think we need to have them here pretty darn soon," Butler said.

Mayor Bill Boineau said many visitors enjoyed talking to Gussie McCracken, the museum intern who worked in the center from July to October.

"That doesn't tell me there's any traction," Butler said.

Jacobson questioned whether the center was in the right hands.

"It warrants (discussion) about whether this might not be better managed as a town asset, part of the parks department or something like that," Jacobson said. "I'm concerned right now … that we're going to end up with a situation where we're bound to one organization and the town doesn't really get the benefit."

Councilmen Jason Haber and Fred Kucker were absent from the meeting. The council voted unanimously in April to fund the director position. At that time, Butler said the benefits, if "properly marketed," would far exceed the expense to the town.

jbeathard@snowmasssun.com