The lift thing explained
(This letter was originally addressed to Mel Blumenthal of Snowmass Village, who has written several letters to the editor.)
You and others who oppose locating the start of the Sam’s Knob lift at mall level misconstrue my proposal.
I recognize your concerns and those of your fellow homeowners below Daly Lane. Ski-out access is very important to you, and I am committed to trying to maintain it. (I am at a loss, however, to see how taking your skis off to get on a gondola to go to where most of us do not want to go is OK, but to go to where most of us want to go, is not. What if both lifts out of the base were gondolas? Would you still complain?)
I must consider, however, the village as a whole ? its permanent residents as well as its absentee homeowners, its summer visitors as well as its winter visitors, and its large landowners as well as its condo owners.
There are more bedrooms above Daly Lane than there are below it. There is an enormous investment by the mall owners and mall shop owners who could be totally wiped out, especially in summer.
If that could happen, my fellow councilmen and I must assure that there is enough critical mass of commercial space in the Base Village project to assure economic viability. This could mean a doubling of what is already proposed. There are very few of us who would like to see that.
Moving this lift from its originally proposed location to the bottom has caused a significant crowding of the buildings at the base and has done nothing to alleviate the skier crowding that exists now. All it has done is assure that all day skiers would bypass the mall and its shops, and go to the Base Village and its shops.
It has assured our village that in summer no one would begin or end their trip at the mall. In fact, I would surmise that the plan is not to run the Sam’s Knob Express from the base at all in the summer. All guests, no matter where they were staying, would begin and end their trips from Base Village.
The only summer lift would be the gondola, which would assure that all summer visitors went to the Suzanne Flats area, where all amenities and functions were owned and operated by the Aspen Skiing Co. What a nice business that would be for them, if you could get anybody to fall for it.
I propose to have the Sam’s Knob Express replace the Burlingame lift. I propose the removal of the Fanny Hill lift. I propose that a new lift, capable of having gondola cars and ski lift chairs installed, running from the Base Village to just above the mall.
This lift, which is similar to one at Telluride Mountain Village, which they call a “chondola,” could service skiers from the lower portion of west village, without having to take their skis off, and could also service non-skiers who wish to ride the lift up to the mall or down to the Base Village.
Since the devices are removable, on ski mornings more chairs could be installed and replaced with gondola or cabriolet cars in the evening for use by non-skiers. For the rest of the 7 1/2 months of the year, when we don’t ski, gondola or cabriolet cars would abound, with a few chairs for those who wish the thrill. I would require that the Sam’s Knob Express would run whenever the gondola was operating, and that one ticket be valid for both.
I believe that this accomplishes all of the legitimate purposes of the new lift. All it doesn’t do is assure all the business to one entity, which I don’t think is a good idea anyway.
Thank you for your interest and input on this difficult decision making process. Please bear in mind that we are only in the “sketch plan” phase. Who knows what this will actually look like when it goes into and out of the preliminary plan phase?
Snowmass Village Councilman
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