Blumenthal: Town needs to monitor kennel, Discovery marketing |

Blumenthal: Town needs to monitor kennel, Discovery marketing

Mel Blumenthal
Second View
Mel Blumenthal

A few bits and pieces to talk about this week likely leading to more in-depth coverage as the winter progresses:

Krabloonik is at the top of our agenda. The dance of the lawyers has commenced with Dan MacEachen finally opening his kimono a bit, as he rarely does, concerning his questionable management style and alleged mistreatment of the 250 working dogs that have been entrusted to him.

In the face of widespread criticism, Dan’s initiated what appears to be an orchestrated damage-control campaign timed to influence the Pitkin County Court, which commenced a criminal hearing involving him this week as the result of an action initiated by the District Attorney’s Office. In cases such as this, when the evidence is as damning as it appears, often the lawyers representing the defendant attempt to skirt the substantive issues and resort to lots of irrelevant distractions. All of the usual maneuvering between the lawyers will play out eventually, and hopefully in the near future the criminal proceedings will result in a fair and just outcome. But in the meantime, there still are 250 dogs under the care and management of MacEachen.

The town of Snowmass Village owns the land on which Krabloonik sits. As Krabloonik and MacEachen’s landlord, the town has enforcement rights under its lease, which it has continually refused to exercise but certainly is capable of exercising while the criminal proceedings wend their way through the court.

Subject to the outcome of the criminal proceedings, the interim care and protection of the dogs and the future of the dogsled amenity, if any, I’d suggest it advisable for the town to appoint a committee of veterinarians and working-dog experts to recommend and oversee a compassionate, forward-looking plan incorporating acceptable operational standards as concerns the long-term care and protection of the dogs.

Unfortunately our Ice Age Discovery remains mostly a well-kept secret, and there does not appear to be an action plan in place now or on the near horizon to turn it into a credible world-class environmental, educational and tourist attraction.

Several years ago, our elected representatives erred by distancing themselves from direct oversight and development of this project, and as a result there’s been very little forward momentum or communication from the board of volunteers charged with those tasks.

This project is too important and valuable to be left solely in the hands of a board made up of individuals who are not accountable to the town. I would recommend that Mayor Bill Boineau and the Town Council encourage our town manager to exercise more direct oversight of this project and in addition engage a full-time or significant part-time CEO who, along with the valuable advice and continuing assistance of Tom Cardamone, formerly executive director and currently chief ecologist at the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies, would be charged with expeditiously guiding this project forward to its full potential.

I know many of you have been anxiously awaiting my list of favorite restaurants, so in no particular order, here are my Snowmass favorites this season:

In Base Village, both new restaurants, Ricard Brasserie and Liquor Bar and Bia Hoi, are worth visiting to sample their diverse menu selections. Ricard, although a bit pricey, has an attractive menu, well-prepared food and great ambience — make sure you try the onion soup, best I’ve ever tasted, and the fried-chicken special on Sundays is exceptional. Everything on the Bia Hoi menu is worth tasting, but the noodle dishes, Jidori Chicken and tempura fried eggplant are standouts.

Although not new, Base Camp and Slice in Base Village, the Artisan in the Stonebridge and the breakfast buffet and lunch at Viceroy’s 8K deserve our continued patronage. They all have excellent and diverse menus and interesting and fun atmospheres.

Although a bit removed from the center of the village, I highly recommend The Edge Restaurant and Bar at the Timberline Condominiums. Casually sophisticated with an atmosphere conducive to conversation, it has a menu of fresh fish, seafood, homemade pastas, soups, salads and tempting desserts that is very appealing and beautifully presented.

On the mountain, still my all-time favorite is Gwyn’s High Alpine, a real dyed-in-the-wool, family-run eatery lovingly presided over for more than 30 years by Gwyn Knowlton and George Gordon. Everything on their menu is appealing, particularly the fabulous daily soup selections.

Although I initially was not impressed with Aspen Skiing Co.’s Elk Camp Restaurant in its premiere season, either I’ve mellowed a bit or the quality of the food, ambience and dining-room layout has improved significantly since last season — and fortunately it has tweaked the chicken soup recipe this year. It’s now very good.

My favorite coffee haunts are Fuel and Starbucks on opposite ends of the Snowmass Mall. Both have great selections of coffee, food and pastry items, each with its own distinct ambience. I suggest coffee in the morning at one and apres coffee at the other.

And by the way, if you’re in the market for anything ski-related, you can’t beat the selection of for-sale and rental items and the quality of service from Keith Long and his experienced and friendly team at Aspen Sports, and don’t forget Jack Rafferty, our resident expert custom boot fitter and orthotic guru, located at his throne inside Aspen Sports.

I’m always out and about in the village and on the mountain, ready to hear your complaints or suggestions, or you can contact me at

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