Voters: Yes to Base Village |

Voters: Yes to Base Village

Steve Benson
Someone altered the Snowmass Village sign prior to the closing of the vote on Base Village Thursday. Aspen Times photo/Mark Fox.

Snowmass Village will be home to a new Intrawest Base Village after residents voted to approve the controversial development Thursday. As expected, the election was close, with about 55 percent of the 1,155 votes cast in favor of Base Village.When complete, the development will encompass more than 1 million square feet, primarily at the base of Fanny Hill. “This is huge, this gives us a tremendous fighting chance to be even more competitive as a destination resort,” David Perry, the senior vice president of the Aspen Skiing Co., said Thursday night. Intrawest and the Skico are partners on the deal. “This is a great victory for the community of Snowmass, and in our opinion it provides tremendous hope for the future,” Perry said. But for the other 45 percent of Snowmass Villagers, the future looks bleak. “I think the community lost, but it will take some people some time to figure that out,” said Jeff Tippett, a former Snowmass Village mayor and the chairman of the Base Village opposition group, Citizens for Responsible Growth. After the Town Council unanimously approved Base Village in October, Citizens for Responsible Growth spearheaded the referendum that sparked Thursday’s vote.

Tippett, who has attended just about every meeting regarding Base Village in the past four years, maintains the development is full of problems and they’ll start to emerge once construction begins this spring. “Everything we said is true,” Tippett said. “The construction impacts will be a big problem for the community, and a big problem for business, particularly in the summer.”We didn’t lie, and the people who felt we were lying will find out the truth soon.” Tippett said the problem with Base Village starts with Intrawest, which is a major resort development company. “A lot of people suffer when Intrawest takes over,” he said. “What Intrawest does best is earn a profit for their investors and they don’t care about the community.” But whether you like them or not, Intrawest developments have been mostly successful. Its village in Whistler, British Columbia, has helped turn the area into one of the most popular destination resorts in North America. And while its village at Copper Mountain has been deemed a failure by some, it has helped boost skier visits dramatically.Perry said that since the Skico is a partner, there will be a major, inherent local pulse on the development. He said opponents will be shocked at how well it fits with Snowmass Village once the project begins to come to life.

“I do believe that even those that were opposed to the concept, when they see it come to reality and see the new improvements and renewed economy – which I believe 100 percent will happen – they’ll recognize this was a good thing,” he said.Thursday’s election drew 1,155 of Snowmass Village’s 1,772 registered voters, which was an even greater percentage than for November’s presidential election, which drew 1,088 local voters. Pat O’Donnell, president and CEO of the Skico, said the company will not turn its back on the 45 percent of Snowmass Villagers who have grave concerns about the project. “We’re not going to be operating in a vacuum, the door will be open, and people should come in and talk,” O’Donnell said. “This is an emotional issue, a divisive issue, and we’ve all got to live here together. “We need to go forward in a spirit of cooperation. The voters have spoken, but that doesn’t mean we can’t work together to make Snowmass the best possible place.” If there is a consolation to the headaches that may be caused by construction, a host of on-mountain improvements will kick off in April, as soon as the ski area closes.A new six-pack chair lift, the Sam’s Knob Express, will be erected this summer and ready to go next winter. Other new lifts, including a gondola, will be added in the next few years. The Sam’s Knob Restaurant will be torn down this summer and replaced with a new facility in the next couple of years.

“I’ve spent my entire life in the ski business and I truly believe this will ensure the success of Snowmass as a four-season mountain resort for decades to come,” O’Donnell said. Steve Benson’s e-mail address is sbenson@aspentimes.comUnofficial resultsQuestion A: YES, 640; NO, 515Question B: YES, 637; NO, 515Question C: YES, 640; NO, 508

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