Town should be proactive, Fee says
For Snowmass Village Town Council candidate Paul Fee, the biggest problem at Town Hall these days is reactive government instead of proactive government.
He uses three proposals currently under consideration and one squandered opportunity as examples. The three proposals are the $15.5 million plan to build a new parking and transit facility, a $2.3 million plan for a swimming pool and the $3.5 million request to save the rodeo grounds from development.
“The most highly visible example of the reactive style of governance is the parking garage and transit facility,” he said. “To me it was poorly conceived. It seems impossible to determine parking and transit needs until the base village plan is submitted by the Aspen Skiing Company.”
One outcome of the current leadership is the citizens’ initiative to cap the Town Council’s spending authority at 40 percent of annual revenues, Fee says. He plans to vote for the initiative on Tuesday.
As for the other two town ballot questions – one to fund construction of a public swimming pool and another to help purchase the rodeo grounds near the entrance to town – Fee thinks both are premature.
He wonders why the council is asking for the minimum needed to build a bare-bones, summer-only swimming pool when most tourists who might use it are in town during the winter.
As for the rodeo grounds, “the $3.5 million is essentially a figure they pulled out of the air. There’s no basis for determining whether that number is appropriate or inappropriate for the village to participate in preserving the rodeo grounds,” he said.
Fee is unabashed in his claim to be one of the so-called Candidates for Change, and he’s quick to throw his hat in with mayoral candidate Ted Grenda and council candidate Dick Virtue, who complete Candidates for Change. And one big change he would like to see is in the way the town treats the Aspen Skiing Company.
“There’s been an adversarial relationship,” he said. “We need to make it clear that we’re interested in a highly cooperative relationship with the Skico and put the base village application on a fast track.”
Fee said that a fast track doesn’t mean a change in the town land use code, or giving the Skico preferential treatment. “It means we shouldn’t make life any more difficult than we need to.”
An example of the adversarial relationship came when the Skico asked to increase the number of time-share units from 21 to 30 as part of phase two of the Snowmass Club redevelopment, Fee said. As an incentive and mitigation, the company put $2 million in cash on the table. But after Town Council paused and one of its members called the offer “paltry,” Skico withdrew the request and the money from the table and settled on 21 units – leaving neither side satisfied.
“That wouldn’t have happened under our regime,” he said, referring to the Candidates for Change.
Fee says the other big issue facing the community is affordable housing. Like his fellow Candidates for Change, Fee wants a study of current and future needs completed before committing too much more money to the town’s affordable housing program. “Before we go to the next plateau, someone needs to look at what should be built on that plateau,” he said.
Fee, 61, has been a full-time resident of Snowmass Village for a little more than five years and a part-time resident/visitor for much longer. After retiring from his senior management position at a hardware distribution firm in the mid-1990s, Fee bought four radio stations in Grand Junction that he owned and operated until selling them last March.
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For the first time ever last season, skier visits generated by ski passes exceeded skier visits from single- and multi-day lift ticket sales at U.S. resorts, according to a study for National Ski Areas Association.