Blumenthal: Best and worst of times for valley biz
This week a tale of three towns; two sad and one with hope.
The first sad tale revolves around the demise and imminent loss of Boogie’s Diner and the break-up of two old friends fighting over the evil dollar. We’ve all seen this movie many times before, but it seems a bit sadder when it involves people and places that have been part of our lives for so long. Although the diner started off shrouded in controversy almost 30 years ago, it quickly gained a place in our hearts and stomachs and has remained there ever since. What are we going to do without their world-famous Matzo Ball Soup?
And how are two old friends now fighting over a real estate commission ever going to reconcile their dispute with each other over who’s entitled to what and how much of the spoils arising from the demise of this Aspen treasure? Unfortunately no easy answers to any of these questions.
Downvalley in Basalt, another iconic treasure has bitten the dust due to the ineptitude of the geniuses who make up the Basalt Downtown Business Association.
Butch’s Lobster Shack, one of the few remaining vibrant and treasured food options in the heart of Basalt, has been relegated to the trash heap because the Business Association couldn’t figure out how to structure a lease that works to keep this business viable. All you hear coming out of the mouths of Basalt’s business community is they’re losing business and businesses to the new Willits Town Center and woe is me, what can we do to stop the flight out of town?
Clearly I don’t have all the answers, but the first thing I’d do is get rid of the morons running the Basalt Business Association and hopefully find a spot in Willits for Butch’s.
On a more hopeful note, the Snowmass Discovery board is not sitting idly by waiting for Related and the town to determine the fate of a permanent home to house and display the village’s ice-age findings uncovered during the excavation of Ziegler Reservoir.
Discussions and conceptual design work are proceeding apace on plans for a new facility that could serve as a museum and educational facility as well as a performing arts center for film, theatre, music and dance.
As I mentioned in my last column, a piece of town-owned land known as the Point Site located a few hundred yards in front of Town Hall would be an ideal location for this facility with a connecting bridge over Brush Creek into Base Village. Visualize traveling up Brush Creek Road to the center of our resort core with views of a completed Base Village on the left and an iconic public facility rising above the roadway with striking views of a giant mastodon in the lobby entryway for everyone to see as they enter the heart of our town. Pretty impressive from my point of view.
As good as this sounds it will require the Town Council to support this concept in the face of a town staff once again committed to its own agenda. Not only are the staff the only ones continually pressing for a hugely expensive, unnecessary and intrusive Brush Creek/Wood road roundabout, but they don’t seem to be much interested in a new discovery/performing arts center. They’re much more focused on creating a new convention/group meeting facility that they can control rather than working with the owners of the underutilized facilities in the village that currently exist.
Extraordinary leadership from our new mayor and Town Council are needed right now to move beyond the massive delays that have stalled the completion of Base Village. One of the first acts of such leadership is to put a very short leash on the town staff. The council must make it very clear to the staff where it wants to go with this process and then hold the staff’s feet to the fire to accomplish the specific goals and timeline set by the council, not the other way around.
Many people in the community are wondering why Snowmass Village is not enjoying the same or similar recovery in real estate transactions and market values as seen in the rest of the valley. I think a good deal of our slower improvement in this area can be attributed to the unfinished concrete wasteland in the center of our community with no clear idea of how and when Base Village will be completed.
It’s time for the town staff to stop playing like we’re beginning from scratch, but clearly they won’t do it on their own. The council must set clear goals and directions for them and hold them to a timeline that gets the required approvals completed much more expeditiously than has been occurring up to this point.
In closing I want to express envy and a bit of jealousy directed to Steve Alldredge, Related’s local spokesman. He has the best job in the valley as evidenced by a weekend story in The Aspen Times concerning Poopgate, where once again he declined comment on Related’s role in this stinky situation. He gets the big bucks to continue saying nothing … I’d like that job, assuming I could keep my mouth shut.
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