Virtue says Skico critical to future |

Virtue says Skico critical to future

Allyn Harvey

When Snowmass Village voters go to the polls Tuesday to select two new Town Council members, they’ll have some clear differences to select from.

And if they end up selecting Dick Virtue, a 55-year-old, semi-retired resident, the Town Council will become more “Skico friendly.”

“We have a good corporate citizen in our community that most small towns would die for – that’s the Aspen Skiing Company,” he said.

Virtue is one of two candidates for the Town Council who has been advocating a more cooperative relationship between the town and the Skico since the start of the election. He sees Skico’s upcoming application to build rental, retail and residential properties at the base of Fanny Hill as critical to the town’s economy, and the town’s role in the process should be one of ensuring the company builds the best possible project.

“Rather than see what we can take from them in exchange for approvals, let’s help them do it the right way – not any way – and explore the idea of public-private partnerships,” he said.

Virtue faults the current Town Council for failing to provide the leadership needed on a number of big issues,

including economic development. He says evidence of that lack of leadership can be found in the citizen initiative to limit the Town Council’s spending authority.

Virtue says he supports the ballot question that would cap the Town Council’s spending on capital projects at 40 percent of the annual town revenue. If the question passes, it would limit spending next year to about $3.9 million, but even if it doesn’t, Virtue would like to see the town take a deep breath before spending millions on a new transit center.

“People don’t understand why a $15.5 million project would be built without knowing what’s going to happen at base village,” he said.

Virtue also sees the base village as a way to reverse the decades-long decline in the number of lodge rooms available at the resort.

Another way to bolster the Snowmass Village economy, he said, is to increase the number of amenities available to visitors and locals.

“I support the concept of a public pool and preserving the rodeo, but not the piecemeal way it’s been presented to voters,” he said. “The Skico, the resort association and the town need to sit down together and think things out. We need to think big to put together a systematic plan for dealing with these issues.”

On the question of affordable housing, Virtue would like to see a leadership task force study the issue. Before moving ahead with any new housing, he would have the task force inventory the available properties, determine the level of satisfaction among current residents of affordable housing, tap into the community’s wealth of land-use planners for advice and produce a plan for building more affordable housing.

Virtue is a retired corporate executive and entrepreneur who made his living in telemarketing and the wholesale distribution of industrial-grade metal. He currently sits on several corporate boards and is in the business of starting and buying companies.

Dick and his family have been visiting Snowmass for about two decades. They bought a condominium in 1989 and continued to visit until five and a half years ago, when they finished building their home and moved here permanently.

“This is my first shot and my last shot. I only intend to serve one term, do what I can for four years and move on. I’ve got other things to do in my life,” he said.

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