Letter: Voters should decide on future of Snowmass

There are significant, substantive and compelling arguments to allow Related’s vesting rights to expire in November. First, this is stipulated in the enabling resolution. May I remind you that when Aspen Skiing Co.’s Jim Crown asked for the votes that would develop Base Village, he told the town of Snowmass Village there would be no change or amendments forthcoming in a “no” vote? He was not to be held hostage. May I inquire as to why, 10 years later, Aspen Skiing Co. and Related are seeking extension and amendments? How does the Town Council explain its 3-2 vote of Sept. 8?

Second, vesting is a bad concept. Business failures and lack of imagination are often the benefactors. If a project will not meet its profit objectives, of what benefit is this subsidy to the public? Indeed, monies realized in bankruptcy may benefit a new title holder, but what are the benefits of failure to the issuing municipality? Why should taxpayers and businesspeople of the village not be extended these privileges? Why should there be vesting?

Third, the applicant should meet current mitigations as required of any other resident, or the council should explain why. To award extensions and contract rewording based on performance of the past decade is to award failure. The past several years have seen enormous growth in corporate wealth. Base Village remains a stagnant testimony to lack of imagination, torpid initiative and sullen insolence. The “10-figure” amount suggested by Dwayne Romero is an extraordinary amount, and these figures, or similar figures presented by other applicants as reason for Related privileges, are not the burdens of the town of Snowmass Village. What is the reason for the 3-2 vote for extension?

Fourth, affordable-housing mitigation was established for the benefit of employers to provide for their businesses and their growth, to provide them the needed labor pool. If our subsidy is no longer needed, then a different funding for community needs should be discussed and the appropriate legislation put forward to the council for discussion.

And fifth, a performing-arts center would be a vast and imaginative improvement over pools and the hotels growing like mushrooms just 8 miles east of Snowmass Village. Why this old, tired and worn-out formula for the village? Have they a toxic case of Aspen envy? Might this be a limelight envy of Disneyland or any number of other failed projects littering the base of ski areas and look-alike theme towns across the country?

This past summer, the idea of a pool was dismissed in town meetings. However, the applicant in comments to Town Planning said that the pool would be built and the cost of operation borne by Base Village Metro. Enough of this! Related’s behavior on the bonds that are 42-mill burdens on homeowners in Base Village is shameful. Related’s behavior in their bankruptcy was crass and avaricious. How does the Town Council’s 3-2 vote to allow privilege square with this lack of credibility?

There is a political solution. If the vesting extension with the changes in wording is so contentious, residents of the town of Snowmass Village should be allowed to vote on the issue via the candidates for mayor and council platforms on this issue in the November election.

Please allow the people of the village a vote.

James Herrel

Snowmass Village