A Snowmass summer in retrospect | AspenTimes.com

A Snowmass summer in retrospect

Mel Blumenthal

With the end of a hectic, fun-filled summer in sight and the beginning of a quiet and hopefully beautiful fall season, it’s time to conjure up memories — most good, some bad — of the past season and do a little predicting of what lies ahead.

Topics du jour throughout most of the summer focused on completion of Base Village and recall of one of our councilmen.

The latter topic will see resolution one way or the other in mid-October and likely needs no further discussion since this unfortunate event has already been thoroughly hashed out in the local press and every watering hole and coffee emporium in the valley.

As to Base Village, the preliminary plan review of Related’s requested revisions to its previously approved development plans is scheduled to come to conclusion by the end of this month. However, it’s unlikely the ride to the end of the review will be smooth, since there are several very significant issues still on the table and their resolution will not be without some further contentious debate. Hopefully capitulation on Related’s part will occur sooner rather than later so that the process of completing Base Village can commence promptly next spring.

“Looking to the future, fear not — I predict that after a bit more grumbling we’ll come to a mutual meeting of the minds with Related and that short of another economic crisis, the cranes will arrive shortly after the close of ski season to commence the long-awaited completion of Base Village.”

Key among the issues left to resolve are the community-purpose obligations Related will be required to fulfill in exchange for all the new zoning variances it’s seeking. The most significant community purpose involves replacing the previously approved Base Village Aqua Center, which is no longer needed since we now have a magnificent community rec center and pool complex at our entryway, with something of greater appeal to our full- and part-time residents as well as our resort guests.

Early conversations centered on a building in the Base Village commercial core that Related offered to the town to house the Ice Age Discovery Center, but that offer has not received strong support from our appointed and elected officials. In my opinion, questions concerning the potential success of raising the required funding for the buildout and outfitting of this stand-alone facility and a mid-seven-figure endowment for its continuing operations, as well as serious questions concerning its long-term ability to attract a significant number of new and repeat visitors, may have cooled the town’s support for Related’s offer.

Greater attention is now focused on Related’s alternative offer of a huge chunk of cash, which, as an example, the community could use to lead a fundraising campaign for the construction on town-owned land adjacent to Base Village of a multipurpose performing-arts and science center, including a home for our Ice Age Discovery Center. This facility would likely attract a broader donor base and appeal to a much larger and more diverse audience of full- and part-time residents as well as our resort guests than a stand-alone Discovery Center.

The building Related offered to the town in the commercial core of Base Village is better suited to enhance our retail, restaurant and entertainment offerings. Once Base Village is fully built out with all its projected new residential units, it will be necessary to provide a more extensive and diverse array of family-friendly commercial offerings, restaurants and entertainment in order to attract and keep our resort guests returning on a regular basis and hopefully give them reason to stay a bit longer and spend a bit more on the offerings and attractions in Base Village as well as the rest of our resort.

The other critical detail Related has stonewalled is providing the Capitol Peak and Hayden residents and their guests access to one of the pools to be constructed in Base Village now that the Base Village Aqua Center is no longer in the picture. These folks have made a good case showing they were promised access to such a facility when they purchased their units, and they, our Planning Commission and our Town Council are unwilling to let Related off the hook on this promise.

Fond memories abound of twice-weekly bike rides with the Peddlers; outdoor and indoor camping and four-wheeling with the Muttering Mad Hutters; hiking the diverse assortment of valley trails with Jersey leading the way, often off-leash, I’m not proud to say; Thursday-night concerts on Fanny Hill; Wanderlust and the recent Zoppe Italian Family Circus, both of which should become annual summer attractions; Sunday Music Festival concerts outside on the Kucker tarp with Tracks, Jersey and a ton of valleywide friends; and best of all the opportunity to reconnect with friends who are fortunate to live here year-round and friends and family who return each season to enjoy all that this little piece of paradise has to offer.

Looking to the future, fear not — I predict that after a bit more grumbling we’ll come to a mutual meeting of the minds with Related and that short of another economic crisis, the cranes will arrive shortly after the close of ski season to commence the long-awaited completion of Base Village. Although I doubt Related will stick around till it’s all done, I’ll miss having it to pick on. It’s given me lots to write about, and if truth be told, I actually respect and have gotten to be friends with a few of its local representatives over the years — no names mentioned in order to protect the innocent.

Your suggestions and comments are welcome at secondview@earthlink.net.

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