Schendler conflicted in Pan and Fork talks

Auden Schendler needs to recuse himself from the Pan and Fork discussions. Schendler is employed by Aspen Skiing Co. His compensation is tied to the value he brings to the company. Skico’s relationship with Lowe Enterprises in Aspen directly ties profits to fund the new Lift 1A, with the quantity of development rights granted, or not, making the two companies largely indistinguishable in the development arena.

Schendler, while participating in a council meeting this past week, advocated that the town “be open-minded” in considering granting approvals to Lowe Enterprises to put high-end condos on the Pan and Fork in Basalt and to meet with Jim DeFrancia of Lowe Enterprises to discuss condos. Basalt had invested about $5 million or more and holds title to 2 acres of undevelopable floodplain land. The nonprofit Roaring Fork Community Development Corp. invested approximate $3 million as part of that same joint venture, while holding title to the adjoining 2-acre, only developable portion, in an effort that cleared what was primarily a Latino community from Basalt. The then-sitting council, town manager and administration in place oversaw the details of that arrangement, the bonds that the Basalt taxpayers were advised to fund, and monies then invested in and around the Community Development Corp. parcel.

In addition to the Lowe Enterprise/Skico conflict of interest, Schendler wife, Ellen Friedman, served as executive director of the Manaus Fund from 2012 to 2014 during the critical joint venture formation period. The Manaus Fund provided capital to the Community Development Corp., which holds title to the developable 2 acres that many including myself understood would become public serving and a river park.

Basalt can still get its river park and true public and some public serving commercial without raising property taxes. This will require the nonprofit acting like a true nonprofit, rather than like a trojan horse for a developer partner, and Schendler to stop participating in any related discussions.

Mark Kwiecienski