Snowmass Village Town Manager Russ Forrest moving on
Snowmass Village Town Manager Russ Forrest announced on May 31 that he has accepted a new position in Gunnison County.
Forrest will assume the position of assistant county manager for economic and community development there. Forrest has been Snowmass Village town manager since March 2007 and plans to start the new job in early August.
“This is a unique situation where a recruiter talked to me, and then it kind of evolved into them making a tailor-made position with everything I love,” Forrest said.
Forrest’s new responsibilities will concern management, development reviews and planning, natural-resource management and economic development.
“I love Snowmass,” Forrest said. “I love the community, the people, what I’ve done. We’ve achieved a lot. We’ve been through a lot, from rapid development and growth in 2007 to dealing with the recession and budget challenges.”
Mayor Bill Boineau said he wishes Forrest were staying. Making a counteroffer wasn’t in the cards, he said, pointing to the typical length of a town manager’s career.
“Honestly, I wish he wasn’t leaving,” Boineau said. “We’ve got a lot of challenges ahead of us.”
Forrest named the completion of capital projects such as the recreation center, Town Hall and Base Village infrastructure among his accomplishments during his career in Snowmass. He was also proud that when the economy hit the bottom in 2009, Snowmass Village was not as hard-hit as some of its competitors.
The way the town worked with stakeholders in the Base Village project has left Snowmass poised to move forward in that area, he also said.
“That, I think, is in a good place,” he said. “(Snowmass is) well-prepared to deal with whatever comes next with Base Village.”
“The sophistication of the town has continued to grow,” Forrest said. “We continue to grow stronger and more transparent, with Granicus and the paperless packets.”
The Town Council will appoint a replacement for Forrest by a majority vote, said Kelly Vaughn, director of communications. Town code requires only that the council fill the position within a reasonable time after posting a job announcement.
The council also sets the salary for the position. Forrest currently earns $136,741.06 annually, according to town records.
Council members began a preliminary discussion about how to conduct the search on June 3 but agreed to wait until all five officials could meet to discuss it more fully, Boineau said. Councilman Fred Kucker was absent from that meeting.
The council still needs to discuss a timeline for finding someone new and whether it will appoint an interim manager, Boineau said. The town will likely involve a recruiting firm to help with the search.
Boineau said strength, experience and community involvement would be important qualities in a new candidate to him as well as someone who can understand the different personalities of the town.
Boineau applauded Forrest’s involvement in the Snowmass Village Rotary Club, Town Cleanup Day and other community projects.
“Russ really involved himself in the fabric of Snowmass,” Boineau said. “Russ was always out talking to the businesses.”
The mayor also said Forrest understood the needs of the community as well as tourists and praised his work with the Marketing, Group Sales & Special Events Board.
“Our numbers are — surprisingly to some people, not to me — better,” Boineau said. “It’s been a great team effort. I think Russ has really helped.”
Forrest plans to complete several projects, including hiring a director for Snowmass Tourism, before his departure, according to a statement. Forrest is tentatively planning Aug. 1 to be his last day as Snowmass Village town manager.
“I thank all town staff and the Snowmass Village community for everything they have provided my family and I personally and professionally over the past six years,” Forrest said in a statement. “Snowmass Village is truly an exceptional place, and that is due to all the individuals that live, work and play here. I look forward to watching — albeit from a different seat — how the community continues to grow, evolve and thrive.”
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The Aspen Camp of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing has received a $5,000 grant from the Rocky Mountain Health Foundation that will help the Old Snowmass camp offer a winter retreat for adults who are deaf or hard of hearing.