Roger Marolt: Loving it by leaving it alone
Let’s keep change organic — nothing too much at once.
Aspen is my hometown. I have regularly criticized people who loved it when they visited, moved there and then set out changing it as soon as the moving van is unloaded. It’s a combination of things that lead to this phenomenon, but it’s really homesickness.
Living in a resort town is different than vacationing in one. This surprises many transplants. Even though it looks better in magazine ads and is more expensive than where they came from, the only way to know what it is like to live here is to live here. As the inevitable adjustment period kicks in, they feel the urge to recreate the broken-in jean feel of what they left behind. Like that favorite pair of pants, they prefer the town fit them rather than have to wear a belt to keep the new style on the hips. So begins the cycle of washing and bleaching.
Imagine my surprise when, after years of disdain over this type of attitude, I realized I am “That Guy” in Snowmass Village. It has escaped my recognition all these years since I moved here. In my own version of Aspen snobbery, I considered Snowmass Village to be more a suburb of Aspen than its own town, so it felt like I was only moving to a different neighborhood.
This dawned on me a couple of days ago when I started thinking about topics for today’s paper. That creative process began with me first trying to come up with a critique of the way things are here followed by suggestions for how Snowmass Village could be better. It’s the same way I have dove into this column every week for the past 17 years. Of course, this did not translate into 884 suggestions for improvement, but tossing master plans around in my head is usually where I start before coming up with something else.
What actually needs to be changed here? That’s what came to mind right after I realized what I really wanted all along was for the village to be more like Aspen. They say to write about what you know. Well, I know Aspen through the eyes of a child wearing bifocals.
The truth is that nothing substantial needs to be changed about this place. It is what it has become. We can take it or leave it. It’s quirky. It’s not a normal layout for optimal dining and shopping experiences. Transportation and parking are a bizarre puzzle. Groceries and gas are pricier than even Aspen. It’s not a town for everyone, but for those transplants whose roots take, the soil is rich with the nutrients we require.
I suppose the great mistake with Base Village is that it was designed to appeal to the masses. As with Aspen, I never thought the masses were needed here. The real world is 7.6 billion strong. We need a minuscule fraction of that to sustain what we have here. Getting that number will never be a challenge due to our pleasant climate and natural beauty.
Whatever we do with the town will not ultimately affect whether we are “at capacity.” It will only possibly change the character of this place through the personalities of the people we attract. The focus should not be on how big we want to be but rather on the flavor we like, be it funky or sophisticated, country or cosmopolitan, ritzy or relaxed or whatever.
We don’t have to be like Aspen, and we certainly don’t have to be like Vail, Chamonix, Lahaina or Timbuktu. Austin came up with a branding campaign that highlighted their weirdness. Snowmass Village is way weirder! I am starting to believe we should stop dressing up our community and let people see what we look like when we wake up on Saturday morning. Certainly not everyone will be impressed, but the ones who are comfortable with our messy hair will join us for a cup of coffee on the patio deciding how to spend the day.
Let’s keep change organic — nothing too much at once. What could be better than all of us who end up here existing together with this place, just the way it and we are? It’ll be like we stopped by to say hello, got invited in for a drink and are having such a good time that we scrape something up from the fridge to make dinner. Impromptu get-togethers are the best. It might be a good way to live, too.
Roger Marolt still doesn’t get the hang of Snowmass Ski Area, but he likes it just the way it is. Email him at email@example.com.
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It’s been just shy of a year since Snowmass Village Town Council reviewed and approved the final redevelopment plans for the Snowmass Center in late fall of 2020 and just shy of two years since the project was first brought before council for review in 2019. But the building still looks the same as it did last year and the year before. Why?