Guest editorial: Alyssa Shenk for Snowmass Town Council
The snow was blowing sideways one winter night when I was driving home in Snowmass. I could barely see it but I knew by feel that Town Park Station was nearing. It seemed like there was a faint movement in the road, although the wall of snow whipping around the car made it impossible to know for sure. I swerved and then screeched to a halt just in time to avoid a pedestrian crossing the road. It was over five years ago but I swear my heart is still racing double from the near miss.
It wasn’t excessive speed or bad tires that brought disaster uncomfortably close. For far too long, the crosswalks in Snowmass Village were not sufficiently lit. I’m not the only one who has had a too-close call on Brush Creek Road or along Owl Creek. And I know I’m far from the only parent who has experienced a mortal fear of having their kids crossing these roads after school or, heaven forbid, at night. Ensuring safer connectivity within Snowmass Village is imperative for our children, residents, visitors and workers, although it’s easier said than done.
I was appointed to Snowmass Town Council in 2014 and then elected to a full term two years after that. I’ve sat on the Northwest Colorado Council of Governments, Roaring Fork Transportation Authority, Elected Officials Transportation Committee and Sister Cities, and have passed the Base Village PUD, adopted the 2018 Comprehensive Plan and developed marijuana licensing regulations. However, it has been my work pursuing crosswalk safety that has perhaps taught me the most about how tough — and rewarding — even the smallest victories are when it’s on behalf of a place and the people you care about so deeply.
Despite enhanced safety recommendations in the Snowmass Connectivity Plan, which was never formally adopted by Town Council, there was a fear by some that adding flashing beacons and other safety measures in major crosswalks would be inconsistent with the town’s “rural character.”
The concern about character was so great that it took five years to see genuine crosswalk safety come to fruition. However, by working proactively with my fellow council members, we were ultimately able to achieve an outcome that prioritized safety while also enabling Snowmass to maintain the charm unique to a rural mountain town.
Sometimes even the smallest changes take time, with passion, patience and persistence being the key to meaningful transformation. There continues to be pressing issues in Snowmass Village, and using the Town Council platform to help identify and advocate for the community requires being open-minded, a good listener and a tireless champion. The outcome of every decision won’t ever be universally beloved, although I can say from experience that the time and effort that goes into the process is often more useful than any outcome achieved.
I smiled so hard my cheeks hurt the first time I saw a mom pushing a stroller safely across Brush Creek under the protective glow of a flashing beacon. It was at that moment that I realized that my efforts and contributions on Snowmass Town Council are integral to the success and sustainability of our remarkable and authentically connected community. I hope to have another four years of small victories on behalf of our little town that add up to something much bigger.
Alyssa Shenk is running for re-election to Snowmass Town Council. For more information visit Facebook.com/AlyssaShenkforSnowmassVillage. Editor’s Note: The Snowmass Sun offered each Snowmass Mayor and Town Council candidate the opportunity to write a 600-word guest editorial piece before the Nov. 3 election.
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A six mile cross-country ski race brought 168 skiers to the trails between Snowmass and Buttermilk in 1971.