Blumenthal: Back on the right track
Spoiler alert: The following comments are generally positive, with perhaps an exception or two.
I want to express thanks and offer kudos to all the creative hardworking unsung heroes who work their nightly magic grooming our four mountains in order to provide us with skiing surfaces that go well beyond the natural resources Mother Nature has provided until recently.
When I arrived back in town a couple of weeks ago, I was anticipating the worst based on the lack of any substantial amounts of new snow since well before I left town. But happily I learned on my first morning back that Aspen Skiing Co.’s on-mountain grooming and ski patrol teams have worked miracles in the face of our recent dry spell. It’s like spring skiing without the slush, and for me and my friends, that’s pretty damn good.
Obviously I have no ability to predict what Mother Nature has in store for us during the remainder of the ski season, but I’m confident the expert Skico team will continue making the best of what they have to work with and for that I’m very grateful.
I also want to extend kudos to the Community Development Director Julie Ann Woods and her expert team, most particularly Jim Wahlstrom, and to Town Attorney John Dresser for the many hours of painstakingly detailed work they’ve put into analyzing, comparing, contrasting and putting into historical context the vast amount of data contained in the current Base Village development approvals and Related’s application.
I was an active participant in the original review and approval process, and I’m amazed at how much detail I’ve forgotten. I guess that’s what happens when you reach my advanced years. Fortunately, the town’s talented team, many of whom were not even around here in the early 2000s when all the original work was fresh in everyone’s mind, have done an admirable job of coherently piecing together most of the critical details.
But there’s still a bit of additional work to be done in this regard, such as reflecting upon the consultants’ economic analysis in the context of the village as a whole rather than just Base Village as a standalone node.
As to Related, I’m not aware of anybody in town standing in support of Related’s claim that the proposed pool adjacent to the proposed Limelight Hotel along with providing an existing space in one of its currently existing buildings to house Snowmass Discovery fulfills the totality of their community purpose commitment.
To be perfectly clear, the impression that Related continually espouses and wants us to believe, that there’s a deal between Related and Snowmass Discovery, is pure fantasy. As a matter of fact, many who’ve analyzed the proposed space and operational details, not the least of which is Snowmass Discovery itself as well as its consultants, have concluded the space being offered is not ideal. Based on my past experience of having been on the potential donor side of such charitable solicitations, I can’t imagine trying to successfully raise $8 million to $10 million to outfit a proper exhibition and education facility as well as establish an adequate operating endowment with something less than an ideal facility plan at the heart of the pitch.
It’s time for Related and town staff members to bury the hatchet and expeditiously pursue the serious work of landing a few critical issues that really matter, such as getting back to the necessary 65,000 square feet of food, beverage, retail and entertainment facilities originally intended for Base Village. In addition, Related must quickly acknowledge the real mastodon in the room is the no longer viable community purpose aquatic center and begin exploring a mutually acceptable replacement such as a multipurpose performance center, which could include the Snowmass Discovery exhibition and educational facility.
There are several better and more appropriate Base Village locations than the one currently being offered by Related, all of which are currently owned by Related and could serve those purposes. That’s likely something Snowmass town staff members and elected and appointed representatives could get their heads and hands around pretty quickly if Related is similarly willing to do so and then move on expeditiously to resolve the remaining details of Related’s application.
Kudos to the members of the Town Council, who are considering at least one and perhaps more than one creative alternative to resolving the minor traffic and pedestrian issues at the intersection of Brush Creek and Wood roads. The community appears resoundingly opposed to building a negatively impactful and wastefully expensive roundabout that’s been on the town’s agenda for many years. The problems if they exist at all are infrequent, and as the newly elected representatives have come to realize, they’re solvable in a much simpler, more economically efficient and favorable manner.
Here’s hoping the snow gods continue looking favorably on our fair village. Your comments are welcome at email@example.com.
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As a parent of elementary school kids, Britta Gustafson is not sure she agrees with the Aspen School District’s decision to throw caution to the wind and send kids back to in-person learning full time.