Snowmass talks values, goals as town works to update community plan
Connectivity, parking, open space and trails, employee housing and community versus resort — what do all of these ideas have in common?
They each crack the list of Snowmass residents’ top priorities for the town as identified during a Plan Snowmass workshop Jan. 10.
The Plan Snowmass project seeks to update the town’s comprehensive plan and establish a communal vision for its future.
To help rewrite the plan, which is intended to help direct Snowmass Village with future growth, policymaking, development and funding, the town contracted Town Planning and Urban Design Collaborative LLC.
The boutique planning and design firm promotes walkable, compact neighborhoods that are both pedestrian and environmentally friendly.
It has worked with a range of municipalities across the U.S., including “big, small, urban, rural,” said Town Planning and Urban Design Collaborative Principal Brian Wright.
On Jan. 10, the town of Snowmass and the planning firm hosted two “visioning sessions” aimed at eliciting community members’ individual and shared concerns, thoughts and goals.
Despite the beautiful weather and fresh snow that day, about 55 community members participated in the afternoon session from 12 to 1:30 p.m. at Snowmass Recreation Center, according to Assistant to the Town Manager Travis Elliott.
“We were taking bets on how many people would show up on a nice ski day,” Wright quipped.
“Some people said seven, others said 30,” added Sandrine Thibault, a Town Planning and Urban Design Collaborative director.
Another 85 people attended the evening visioning session from 5 to 6:30 p.m., bringing the total number of participants to 140, Elliott said.
At each session, the event leaders divvied people into groups around a table with a large, laminated map of Snowmass Village and assigned everyone to indicate on the map the places they “love the most” as well as the areas that should or need to be improved.
Upon identifying and discussing common goals and concerns among each group, a representative from each group presented their top six themes before the room.
In addition to the collective priorities mentioned above, other values identified at both visioning sessions include increasing the town’s vitality and activities, balancing chain stores and locally owned businesses, protecting Snowmass’ view planes, improving the town’s entryway appearance and introducing some type of “community gathering space,” conference center or multi-purpose facility.
Many Snowmass community members interviewed by the Snowmass Sun reported an overall positive and productive experience at the visioning session.
“I feel like everybody was really able to get their voices heard,” said Little Red School House Director and Snowmass resident Robin Sinclair.
Snowmass resident Joanna Mallory, who attended the afternoon session, said she was “surprised how many people were on the same page.”
Marilee Uptown-Spatz, also a Snowmass resident, expressed a similar sentiment.
“I don’t think there’s many people that disagree,” she said after the noon workshop.
Uptown-Spatz said that while she has encountered “a few people” who share less collective views — not at the events Jan. 10 — as a whole, it seems most residents hold similar values when it comes to Snowmass’ future.
At the first community plan meeting Oct. 19, Wright said the initial feedback he had received from Snowmass community members included revitalizing the mall, staying on top of Base Village, creating more economic diversity, maintaining the town’s trails, combating seasonality and creating more affordable housing for employees.
He also identified the Snowmass center, mall and entryway as three specific areas that need improvements.
At the heart of many of these discussions, as acknowledged during both Plan Snowmass gatherings, is the question of whether Snowmass is a resort first with a community, or a community first with a resort.
Plan Snowmass’ next event will be a “Planapalooza” slated from Feb. 23 to 28. Location and further details will be announced at a later date.
Throughout Snowmass’ comprehensive plan update, the town encourages the community to think critically about its values for Snowmass moving forward, what the town lacks, what improvements should be made and what it loves about the village.
To get involved in the process or for more information on Plan Snowmass, visit http://www.plansnowmass.com.