‘State of the Village’ looks past town, focuses on county | AspenTimes.com

‘State of the Village’ looks past town, focuses on county

Bob Fike of the Snowmass Part-Time Resident Advisory Board asks Pitkin County Commissioner Greg Poschman a question during the winter "State of the Village" address on Feb. 13, 2020. (Maddie Vincent/Snowmass Sun)
Maddie Vincent/Snowmass Sun

About 20 people gathered in Snowmass Town Hall on Feb. 13 to hear the winter “State of the Village” address, which focused on how the village fits into the larger Roaring Fork Valley community.

Hosted by the Part-Time Resident Advisory Board, the nearly two-hour meeting featured presentations from Greg Poschman of the Pitkin Board of County Commissioners, Hugh Zuker of Mountain Rescue Aspen and Snowmass Mayor Markey Butler.

The three officials covered everything from growth in valley visitor traffic and Snowmass tax revenue, to backcountry safety and the importance of wildfire mitigation for area homeowners, working to give attendees an all-encompassing overview of what’s happening in and around Snowmass Village.

“We’re part of a really exciting community that we all know as the Roaring Fork Valley,” said Charles Hess, Part-Time Residents Advisory Board member. “And so gaining a little bit of perspective as to what is our role, what is our position within the Roaring Fork Valley and what is the future of Snowmass as a member of the valley is something I thought would be interesting.”

To kick the meeting off, Poschman talked with attendees about his longtime ties to Snowmass, reminiscing of growing up visiting the village when it was more of a ranching community and having the opportunity to interview some of the longtime Snowmass locals as part of creating the 40th and 50th town anniversary videos.

He then talked briefly on topics like resident growth and visitor traffic; county road maintenance, public transportation and wildfire mitigation efforts, noting wildfire is big threat in the Pitkin County area; openings on county community advisory boards for interested attendees; and open space and wildlife protection efforts, specifically recent discussions led by Forest Service officials on keeping Snowmass’ Burnt Mountain area, namely the Government Trail and Anaerobic Nightmare trail, closed a week longer to help protect elk populations.

Poschman also touched on the collaboration between Pitkin County and the town of Snowmass Village, noting how important it is for all of the county’s governing bodies to communicate, collaborate and work together when making decisions.

He said this collaboration is something that’s especially important when addressing pressing issues such as mental health, and is something that can always be improved upon among all county stakeholders and organizations.

“Working together with the other municipalities is super important,” Poschman said, noting that happens through groups like the Elected Officials Transportation Committee. “We need to think about valley-wide solutions. … It’s about what’s beyond our communities because we share a constituency and work with everyone, and I’m proud to say we’re working on that.”

On top of hearing about countywide stats, projects and focus areas for elected officials, “State of the Village” attendees also received a brief crash course on Mountain Rescue Aspen’s operations and search-and-rescue tactics in Pitkin County.

Zuker, a longtime Mountain Rescue Aspen field team member, walked through each step of a search-and-rescue mission — locate, access, stabilize and transport —and how MRA members execute them in the field, along with how the nonprofit couldn’t operate without the dedication of its volunteers and support of its community partners.

Zuker also said MRA field team volunteers average over 67,972 hours of service, including 20,000 training hours, and 66 missions a year.

Although the winter “State of the Village” address was geared toward “looking outside Snowmass Village,” Mayor Butler also touched on some of the town’s big projects and recent news.

Butler highlighted The Collective, the town-owned community building in Base Village that was completed earlier this winter; the groundbreaking of the Coffey Place housing project, a new neighborhood of deed-restricted homes set to house locals by early 2021; and the handful of town redevelopment and renovation projects being reviewed by Snowmass Town Council, including the proposed Snowmass Center project, village transit center project and Town Park redesign.

She also said that with all of the proposed redevelopment within the village, it’s important for town officials to be critical of each project’s short-term and long-term impact, weighing things like construction effects on locals and development effects on natural resources.

“It’s hard sitting in council seats and having to say no,” Butler said, referring to being critical of proposed development projects. “But we have a great council; it’s one of the best councils we’ve had.”

Butler also noted that the town saw a 13.2% increase in its sales tax revenue from 2018 to 2019, and record occupancy rates for nine out of 12 months in 2019.

Aligning with the “State of the Village” address theme, Butler also noted that each Town Council member serves on at least one countywide advisory board and that collaboration is important for town success.

“We all work really closely together, we are in constant communication with Pitkin County and Aspen,” Butler said.