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The opportunity to prosper

Dear Editor:I have resisted the urge to enter the political realm of the Base Village debate, however I now feel compelled to do so. I am more than an interested party; I have been through four-plus years of planning and public process on the approved Base Village plan. I made a recommendation to the ownership of the Aspen Skiing Co. to choose Intrawest as our partner – a decision I stand by today.A lot of speculation has gone on in the public regarding the developer submitting a smaller version of Base Village if the referendum doesn’t pass. Trust me, this is an opportunity of a lifetime for Snowmass Village. If the referendum fails, no second chance exists to obtain the type of capital infusion this resort needs to regain its rightful position. No developer would consider risking the time, money and effort to go through what we have just gone through with the knowledge the community would likely vote it down.As in all resorts as well as your personal residence, there is a life cycle that must be maintained to preserve the asset. Although we think we are unique, all resort communities are faced with similar decisions. Just look into the next valley and see what Vail Resorts has begun with the revitalization of Lionshead and the renovation of Vail Village initiated by the town of Vail. Without a Base Village, do we stick our head in the sand pretend that we will not have to compete with other destinations?Even the opponents to Base Village have publicly stated that Snowmass Village needs a larger branded conference-oriented hotel. Many attempts have been made over the past 30 years to achieve this goal. There is a reason no one has succeeded – the seasonality and economic climate will not support it. Base Village is the only chance to bring this dream to fruition. During the public process we said we would bring a nationally recognized upscale hotel to Snowmass. We did what we said we would with the signing of an agreement with Westin Hotels a couple of weeks ago. At the request of your Town Council, the Westin was moved to the second phase of the development so Snowmass Village could begin reaping the rewards of this relationship earlier. Every resort I have operated (all of them operated as condo hotels, similar to the approved Base Village) over the past 30 years was able to operate at AAA four-diamond ratings or higher. During my 12-year tenure at Keystone, we maintained the AAA five-diamond rating, including more than 1,000 rental condominiums. Snowmass Village deserves this kind of notoriety and I give you my promise I am dedicated to make it happen.I am asking you to vote “yes” on Feb. 3. I would love the opportunity to give this community the kind of village it needs to prosper.Don SchusterVice President, Real EstateAspen Skiing Co.


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