Ski training facility floated for Snowmass entryway | AspenTimes.com

Ski training facility floated for Snowmass entryway

Jill Beathard
The Aspen Times

A new home for the Snowmass-Wildcat Fire Protection District, a ski and snowboard training facility and a mass transit option were all concepts on the table at a planning meeting for the village's entryway on Thursday.

The town of Snowmass Village wants to complete the development of the area at the intersection of Brush Creek and Highline roads that includes the rodeo grounds, recreation center, athletic fields and a wetlands habitat. The Community Development Department has led two public meetings to create a vision for what uses and facilities the area should house upon completion.

There were three specific concepts presented during the meeting: a preliminary design for a facility that would seasonally house the rodeo and ice rink, sketches for the whole area that the town commissioned several years ago and the training facility, envisioned to resemble the Woodward center at Copper Mountain.

The rodeo and ice structure, sketched by Z Group Architects, could occupy about the same amount of space as the current arena, but it could be reoriented or relocated, said Jim Gustafson, president of the firm. In the winter, Aspen Skiing Co. uses the rodeo staging area as an overflow lot for day skier parking, and Snowmass Mountain manager Steve Sewell suggested the arena could be moved so that the additional parking would be directly adjacent to the paved lot.

The town's sketches included the transit center where the Village Shuttle buses currently stop and a separate visitor center. To resident Arnie Mordkin, that building is not necessary, and the town has learned that since eliminating the checkpoint booths that forced visitors to stop just before the roundabout.

"People have been finding Snowmass Village since a long time ago," Mordkin said. "To try and intercept people here I think is an error."

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The transit center is now serving double duty as an information stop, though, said Dave Harris, of the Transportation Department. It would be more ideal if drivers could pull up to a building like that without having to mix with the buses, he said.

Resident Scott Calliham made the proposal for the ski training facility, which he said has a potential investor interested in funding it. It would still leave room for some additional athletic fields on that side of Brush Creek Road, and Calliham proposed building parking underneath the fields.

However, it would be difficult to build a facility of that size and also keep the rodeo grounds there, and Calliham said he only supported the idea if a new home could be found for that use.

Materials exist that could be laid over the athletic fields that could convert them into parking areas during the winter, Sewell said. That would alleviate concerns about groundwater interfering with underground parking.

Serving multiple uses key

Much of the discussion Thursday revolved around the fate of the rodeo. Even rodeo volunteers and supporters agreed that in order for the event — which takes place once a week in the summertime — to survive, the arena would need to serve multiple purposes.

Attendees broke off into small groups and sketched their ideas for facilities and overall layout on a sheer sheet of paper laid out over a map of the entryway. One group proposed adding a roof to the rodeo/ice rink concept and incorporating other uses, such as special events, into it. Solar panels could be installed on the roof, which could heat and cool the building and possibly even maintain the temperature of the ice, said Andy Worline, recreation director.

However, at least one attendee, architect Jim Kehoe, didn't see a rodeo facility as being able to serve a lot of other uses because of the animals and dirt.

One group's sketch also incorporated public art, a garden and a more direct ingress from the Brush Creek/Highline roundabout. Another proposed adding a berm in front of the Rodeo Place neighborhood to offer those residents more privacy.

Fire Marshal John Mele told the group that the Snowmass-Wildcat department's fire station on Owl Creek Road is falling into disrepair, and since visitors often stop in the station seeking information anyway, he could envision an amenity that would fill both of those needs.

"We see our fire station as a welcoming center as is," Mele said.

Another idea came from Toni Kronberg, who said some form of "mass people mover" could solve parking and transportation problems in the village and also be more environmentally friendly.

The Community Development Department has tentatively scheduled a third entryway meeting for Nov. 20, said director Julie Ann Woods. Between now and then, the town will hire professionals to draft up some of the ideas discussed.

Woods hopes to finalize a conceptual plan to present to the Town Council in the first quarter of 2015.

jill@snowmasssun.com

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