Why the Crowns will change their mind
Dear Editor:As the great Karl Valentin once remarked, “Everything has already been said, but not yet by everyone.” The same is true of the Snowmass Base Village debate – and yet, here I’m at it again.One thing that bothers me a lot is that the discussion has lost itself to such an extent in technicalities. The issue that matters, plain and simple is this: what’s being proposed is too large, too dense and too high. It will deface the natural beauty which every visitor to this town comments on, and it will erode the charm and simplicity that keeps drawing people to Snowmass Village. Yes, we must move forward. But no, we don’t want to be like Copper Mountain, Park City or Whistler.Much has been said about the Aspen Skiing Co. not coming back with a proposal for a smaller Base Village. “If there is a NO vote, the current landowner will not present a smaller program,” wrote our mayor recently. And the same song has been sung from every rooftop in town. All because Jim Crown said so. Here are some questions. Has Mr. Crown never changed his mind? Is it not a cherished habit of corporate executives to posture? How many times do companies make a takeover bid stating that they won’t pay a nickel per share more, if the shareholders vote against their generous offer – only to increase the price by fifteen or twenty percent days after being rebuffed. Posturing is more than habit in American business. It is its culture.But perhaps Jim Crown isn’t posturing when he says he won’t come back; perhaps he actually believes it. All of us have deluded ourselves from time to time. We think we won’t go beyond a given point, but when passing that point becomes the only rational way forward we reconsider and change. In business, flexibility is the principal tool of survival. The ritual of commerce demands that strategy is continuously adjusted to changing realities. And we do know one thing: the Crowns are good at business. Now, consider the Crown family’s position next Friday morning, the day after the Base Village proposal is defeated. They’ll count their developable acres and wonder what to do with them. One option will be to build 40-plus monster homes, as the fear-mongers have suggested. But that won’t draw a lot of visitors to Snowmass Village, and visitors is what the Crown family needs to keep its most profitable mountain operation paying dividends. No folks, no matter what you’ve heard – the Crowns will be back. And my bet is they’ll be back with a modified Base Village proposal. If they won’t, they’ll put their investment at risk. And that is something the Crown family is not in the habit of doing!Peter CaveltiSnowmass Village
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