Blumenthal: Things are better, don’t blow it | AspenTimes.com

Blumenthal: Things are better, don’t blow it

Mel Blumenthal

Although it’s not a surprise to me and I assume most of you, it’s very heartening to actually see clear evidence of the positive improvement in the collegiality and interaction of all members of the new Town Council.

Significant credit for this breathtaking change from the dysfunctional behavior of the prior council goes to the new mayor, Markey Butler. Her experienced leadership skills along with her commitment to transparency and inclusivity with respect to the town staff, her colleagues and all members of the public bodes well for dealing with and resolving the very difficult issues that lay ahead.

Although Mayor Butler comes to the job with vast amounts of professional and high-level leadership experience, as well as a good deal of institutional knowledge concerning the village and deserves lots of credit for the new council dynamic, she can’t do it alone. The electorate got it very right this time with the selection of three new members who along with the sole returning councilman appear at this early date to be a very diverse, professional and responsible policymaking and legislative body.

I intend to do all that I can to support them in the difficult tasks that lay ahead and hope the entire community will similarly participate by offering creative input, opinions and feedback as the elected representatives go about dealing with the critical issues facing our community over the next few years.

For the first time in a long time I’m convinced we’re on the right track with the right people in place, who will do their very best for the good and welfare of the entire community.

Having laid on heavy praise, I’m not foolish enough to believe that I or any of us will be in full agreement with all the decisions made on our behalf, but as long our community interests are being properly addressed and well-served, I’ll remain an active supporter even if my personal desires don’t always carry the day.

So as not to leave the impression that I’ve gone totally soft in the head, there are a couple of points of light I’d like to throw out for consideration.

It’s becoming very clear the community does not support the town staff’s multiyear campaign to build a roundabout at Brush Creek and Wood roads. The cost-benefit ratio of such a project just doesn’t pencil out in any positive way to the community. First the project is addressing a problem that, if it exists, does so only a few days each year, and more reasonable and cost-efficient fixes are available without disrupting the entire community and the continued operation of our much-needed gas and auto service station.

Many of us have heard that Related is indifferent as to the necessity of building a roundabout, but representatives do acknowledge they’re committed to pay the town something in excess of $3 million dollars for its construction. In light of Related’s previously expressed consent, the town is in the enviable position of being able to decide not to build the roundabout and still obtain the same dollars, which could be used by the town for some other more needed and necessary community benefit. It sounds to me like a good time to determine the highest and best use of those dollars. I would imagine we could come up with a short project list pretty quickly.

Sorry to report that according to many stories that have been related to me over the holidays, the quality of service at many of our resort-related business establishments was well below the expectations of our guests, as well as many of our full- and part-time residents.

I don’t plan to point fingers at any particular businesses, but with the exception of Skico’s on- and off-mountain operations, which have received accolades from just about everyone I’ve heard from, a good portion of the rest of the village’s lodging and food-and-beverage operations are in need of a good deal of remedial improvement, which in many cases appears related to inadequate staff selection and training.

Snowmass’ resort-based economy lives and dies by the experiences of its guests, who due to the nature of the demographic we market to have very high expectations. If we don’t deliver, they’ll go elsewhere, and that’s what I’ve been hearing with increasing volume so far this year.

Perhaps it would be helpful if Snowmass Tourism came together with our committed business operators as partners in identifying and implementing quality service standards before the next rush of tourists arrive. With the tourism department’s expertise and funding assistance, protocols could be established to measure, monitor and privately report to each participating business the results of its implementation of such standards without publicly pointing fingers at any particular establishment.

If we fail to act soon I’m afraid we will do so at the peril of not being able to achieve our village aspiration, “…to be the leading multiseason, family oriented inclusive mountain resort community…We wish to be seen by others as welcoming, dynamic, convenient and successful…When successful, Snowmass Village will have achieved the quality of life and economic vitality that will assure our future as a sustainable resort community.”

Let’s work hard not to blow it.

As always your comments are welcome at secondview@earthlink.net.


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