In latest Town Park update, Snowmass Rodeo remains focal point

Focus shifts from parking to multi-purpose possibilities

An updated rendering of the Town Park Master Plan by Connect One Design in Snowmass Village as presented to Town Council on Feb. 16, 2021.
Town of Snowmass Village/Courtesy image

A master plan for the redesign of Town Park in Snowmass Village could be considered for adoption by Town Council as early as next month, according to council discussions at a Feb. 16 regular meeting.

“I think what we need sooner than later, hopefully at the first meeting of March, would be adoption of the plan,” Town Manager Clint Kinney said during Tuesday night’s continued review of the design plans.

That tentative adoption date on the calendar would bring the town within months of breaking ground on the long-discussed master plan for a bolstered community space and reimagined entryway to Snowmass Village.

In recent years, input from community members and stakeholders directed the focus toward “something that fits in with the character of the community — green space, but still sort of the utilitarian need for parking and a number of other functions,” said Matt Donnelly, chair of the Parks, Open Space, Trails and Recreation Board.

Among the updates: more than 100 additional paved parking spaces, wetland restoration and new multi-use recreational spaces.

“The big thing that you know we were challenged with is getting the rodeo in and giving it a nicer facade,” he said — a topic that became one of the focal points during updates and discussion Feb. 16.

A Feb. 5 letter to council from the Snowmass Western Heritage Association, which organizes the rodeo, flagged the temporary nature of the grounds and lack of an attractive entryway to the grounds as main concerns; board members Jim Snyder, Robert de Wetter, Markey Butler and Jamie Knowlton cited preservation of the community’s Western ranching culture, and cost and durability factors as the basis for a potentially permanent structure.

“A more permanent structure that features the communities Western ranching culture is important in recognizing the role this valleywide community plays in preserving open space and providing locally grown products for area restaurants, which is vital to the growing concern for sustainability,” the letter notes.

A focus on culture and aesthetics marked a departure from earlier feedback from the association that centered primarily on logistical concerns.

When council last reviewed plans for a Town Park redesign in November, the association mostly expressed concerns about parking logistics and safety: the new paved parking area would not accommodate enough contestant trucks and trailers, and the setup would make it difficult for emergency vehicles to access the arena, according to earlier letters and comments from executive director Darce Vold.

So what changed?

The master plan, for starters: a revised layout makes room for more contestant trucks and trailers to use as a staging space on rodeo nights and modifies the entry and exit point for emergencies, according to Sara Tie, a representative for Connect One Design.

“We have several design meetings with the rodeo. … We did actually make some alterations to both the parking and the way out of rodeo grounds based on all of the coordination with them,” Tie said. “I think that that is why we aren’t seeing those comments anymore, because we did address them.”

Plus, board representation for the Snowmass Western Resort Association changed: Butler and Knowlton are both newer to the board.

“There’s a different representation, a different approach, and I think what you’re seeing is just that,” Kinney said.

The latest feedback on the rodeo grounds prompted further council conversation in the vein of possible “multi-purpose” uses and programming for the space, which only hosts the rodeo about eight times per year.

“It’s a significant piece, and it’s a piece that all of us, the whole community has been struggling with for a long time,” Councilman Bob Sirkus said. He said doesn’t consider winter overflow parking to fit that “multi-purpose” definition and wants to see alternate uses for the rodeo grounds considered in the master plan.

But there are still other planning hurdles to clear before diving into specific programming under that multi-use umbrella, town staff noted. The timing of the rodeo revamp isn’t clear just yet.

“We can’t even get to second base until we get to what this is going to look like,” Kinney said.

If COVID-19 restrictions keep the rodeo on hold, the town could jump on the opportunity to revamp the grounds as early this summer. Otherwise, wetlands restoration may skip to the front of the line in the implementation of the master plan, according to discussions at the Feb. 16 meeting.


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