Blumenthal: Community on Related’s back burner | AspenTimes.com

Blumenthal: Community on Related’s back burner

MEL BLUMENTHAL
SECOND VIEW
Mel Blumenthal

As previously reported, Aspen Skiing Co. has pulled its plans for a new Limelight hotel in Base Village, stating it could not go forward with the hotel and 18 high-end condos whose sale would generate a significant portion of the funds needed to build the hotel.

The stated basis for Skico’s decision was its uncertainty concerning Related Colorado’s plans for the remainder of Base Village. Skico indicated this uncertainty would negatively impact the sale of the condos to the public. It had been awaiting Related’s promised delivery of those plans by the end of 2013, but Related once again failed to fulfill its promise and has indicated it has no current plans to share regarding the completion of Base Village.

The town also has been waiting to receive the promised plans before making any decision concerning Related’s request to extend its Base Village vested development rights, which are set to expire in November.

Having not delivered the plans as promised but still desiring to obtain an extension of its vested development rights, Related attempted to coerce the town into granting the vested-rights extension anyway; otherwise it would not fulfill its pre-existing obligation to build the Brush Creek/Wood Road roundabout, a condition precedent to the town’s issuance of a certificate of occupancy for the contemplated Limelight hotel.

Be cautious when Related comes seeking favors and tells us it’s for our own good: We’ve been there and burned by relying on their promises before.

Although Related continually claims it’s a good and responsible citizen and that it always has the community’s best interests in mind, it continually functions as if it only has its own best interests in mind. The demise of the Limelight and Village Market are the most recent examples of its self-serving view of the village.

Speaking of Village Market, it appears from the emptying shelves that the end is very near and we’ll soon lose this long-cherished business establishment. The Clark’s organization has a lot to prove, and it needs to do so in short order. Village Market was not broken and should not have been replaced, but Related didn’t consider the community’s wishes and went ahead with its own self-serving plans — is there any reason to suspect it will deal with us any differently with respect to its other properties?

Be cautious when Related comes seeking favors and tells us it’s for our own good: We’ve been there and were burned by relying on its promises before.

All of this is further proof that we desperately need the guidance of a highly qualified full-time town manager with the requisite operational skills and personality to deal effectively with the aforementioned issues as well as Krabloonik, completion of the entryway, hiring a new tourism director and shepherding several new and very expensive environmental initiatives that appear not yet to have been fully thought-out or well-planned.

Unfortunately there are no signs of progress in this direction because the elected representatives still appear unable to resolve their deep-seated anger and lack of respect for one another, much of which recently has surfaced publicly over the selection of the town manager. As a matter of fact, it appears things are worsening by the day and the community is suffering from the council’s inability to put its personal issues aside and work collegially for the health, welfare and benefit of the village.

When Gary Suiter came aboard last fall as a temporary consultant functioning in the role of interim town manager, one of his first assignments was to facilitate a learning and healing process among the council members, but instead Gary has become the lightning rod of further discontent. No matter how smart or nice a guy he might be, he does not appear to be the right guy to settle the internal conflicts and to bring peace and harmony among the council members.

From his statements and body language during recent council proceedings, it appears Suiter also agrees this is an untenable situation and that the council needs to come to grips quickly with this matter and by consensus select a full-time permanent town manager. However, a slim three-person council majority is still blocking all plans to continue the search for a consensus candidate to fill this critically important leadership position.

Based on all the difficult and complex work and decisions that will be necessary in the near term, it appears foolhardy at best to continue governing in such a dysfunctional manner. The majority appears to be pinning its hopes on a meaningful change in the council’s composition in November’s election. Some are even suggesting a recall of one or more council members. In my opinion, it would be much more productive and beneficial to the community in both the short and long term if each of them took a deep, reflective view of the current circumstances, put their anger aside and began working together like responsible adults.

I eagerly await your comments at secondview@earthlink.net regarding the issues discussed above.


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