Blumenthal: The poop’s out of the bag |

Blumenthal: The poop’s out of the bag

Mel Blumenthal

This week’s column will be a potpourri of commentary stretching from Aspen to Snowmass Village.

The local dialog in Aspen is heating up in the final days leading up to the city election next month. The three most controversial items on the ballot are the possible return of Mick Ireland to the City Council, a shift in the balance on council from pro-development to slow or no-growth and the ascendancy of citizen rule over development variances.

God forgive the citizens of Aspen if they choose to bring back Mick. His fan base centered in the various employee housing projects around the city are clamoring for his return to power, but hopefully more rational minds will prevail while remembering what an embarrassing disaster he was during his prior years of public service. Best that he spend his remaining days on this planet offending as few people as possible and causing little, if any, commotion while restricted to play well outside any circle of influence in Aspen.

Pro and slow or no-growth forces are pitted against one another for the mayor’s seat as well as a couple of council seats, along with a citizen’s referendum on the granting of variances from the city land-use code. With the rise of interest throughout the country in citizen power vs. the old representative democracy ideology, I think it may be time to give the citizens a bit of what they’ve been clamoring for and see how that works out. If not so well, they can always go back to the old normal.

In Snowmass Village, the Town Council has finally decided to end the ill-conceived sketch plan phase and push Related’s request for changes in its Base Village development entitlements on to preliminary plan review, which the town should have done several months ago. The Town Council and Planning Commission have listed general areas of concern to be addressed during this stage, which unfortunately will continue on far too long.

The key areas of concern are issues related to Community Purposes; the combining of two previous smaller lots into one giant lot allowing the construction of a much larger condo project, in excess of an additional 60,000 square feet to be exact, which will likely have negative impacts on neighboring properties; and the amount of space allocated to and diversity of food, beverage, retail and entertainment facilities in Base Village to attract and retain all the new visitors and guests needed to fill up all the new hot beds in town.

During the months ahead that Related says it will take to complete its preliminary plan application followed by the town manager’s excessively long estimate of the amount of time needed to put together a simple report for the Planning Commission, the Town Council and the community, nothing else will be going on to restart the much-needed completion of Base Village. But fear not, during this downtime I’ll continue weighing in with thoughts and ideas for the community to consider, and hopefully public discussion will recommence at the council table sooner than the town manager’s estimated timeline, which coincides with the next Christmas/New Year’s holiday season.

One idea to begin considering now is the relocation of the proposed discovery center/performing arts complex to the Point Site, which is the town-owned development parcel just in front of Town Hall. It’s big enough to accommodate an iconic community structure of at least 20,000 square feet, which should be quite adequate for this purpose.

Related has already offered a huge chunk of cash in exchange for granting it a few favors. That offer obviously needs to be fleshed out further but could easily be put to this community purpose.

It now appears that neither Related nor the town is much interested in finding a spot for this facility in Base Village, but in my opinion this iconic community facility located on this prominent resort entryway promontory along with an attractive bridge or aerial connection from Base Village would be equally ideal. This is something that should be examined and conceptualized more thoroughly during this downtime and something I will continue to opine about in the weeks to come.

After four years of secrecy, Poop Gate has finally surfaced publicly in Snowmass Village.

Town staff members along with the Snowmass Water & Sanitation District has finally come clean with the public announcement that poop has been trickling down from the four-star Viceroy Snowmass hotel by the Assay Hill chairlift and entering Brush Creek. None of our resident geniuses are sure whether it’s human or animal poop, but from my viewpoint, no matter whose poop it is it ain’t good.

The new town manager is quoted as saying: “We are looking into it. … There is no imminent danger or anything like that. … To be perfectly blunt, if there’s shit flowing into the creek, we have to be on it right now.”

I’m comforted that our Town Manager has the poop covered, but the other resident geniuses, including our former mayor, who have known about this situation for the past four years and kept it a big secret and worst of all did nothing to correct it probably don’t deserve a Christmas bonus this year.

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