Town Park Master Plan gets long-awaited approval from Town Council
Snowmass Village council, stakeholders work through misunderstandings to set next steps in motion
After misunderstandings, miscommunication and much ado about multi-use space, the Town Park Entryway Master Plan finally got its golden ticket to proceed to the design process at a March 1 Snowmass Village Town Council meeting.
Council’s unanimous approval of the plan allows planners to take the next steps in the design process for the long-awaited and much-discussed project, which will add new amenities and multi-use spaces to Town Park and beautify the entryway to Snowmass Village.
On March 2, the wheels were already in motion to arrange a site survey and prepare for the design process, according to Andy Worline, director of Parks, Recreation and Trails for Snowmass Village.
“As soon as the snow is gone, we can start moving,” Worline said in a phone interview. “It’s going to be a long road ahead but at least we have a direction.”
That direction is key to making progress on a project that has been on the minds of local stakeholders for nearly two decades; master planning began in 2003, according to the plan approved March 1.
The document establishes project goals, the placement of park features, potential phasing and cost estimates; approval allows planners to zero in on the design of individual elements.
“We are excited that council gave us the go-ahead,” Worline said. “It’s been a long process but I think we checked all the boxes.”
At the beginning of the March 1 meeting, however, it seemed as if one major box still needed to be checked: endorsement from the Snowmass Western Heritage Association, which produces the summer rodeo.
The association doesn’t have veto power over the plan — approval falls under the purview of town council — but the rodeo grounds have been a focal point in council discussions about the future of Town Park.
And with a new board at the helm, members of the association had previously expressed general support for the master plan when it was under review in mid-February; that had changed by the end of the month.
“Snowmass Western Heritage Association (SWHA) formally withdraws its support for the Master Plan for the Snowmass Village Town Park,” members of the association’s board wrote in a Feb. 25 letter to Town Council.
The need for a permanent, attractive multipurpose facility on the rodeo grounds and closer alignment with the town’s comprehensive plan prompted the change of heart, according to the letter from Jim Snyder, Robert de Wetter, Markey Butler and Jamie Knowlton.
The letter included an earlier sketch of the town park entryway and a wide range of possible additional uses for the grounds, from concerts and weddings to UFC fights and an American Ninja Warrior Training Center. Previous rodeo boards had been opposed to some multipurpose applications of the grounds “but that is not the case at all anymore,” de Wetter told council.
The letter came as a surprise to council and a disappointment to the Parks, Open Space, Trails and Recreation (POSTR) Board, officials said at the meeting March 1.
“We were a little disappointed, after all the time this board has spent trying to come up with the best balance of options in the part,” POSTR board chair Matt Donnelly said March 1. The board has met with the rodeo association on a number of occasions to seek their input.
“I’m just confused by the letter as well — I’m surprised,” Councilman Tom Goode said.
But discussion among council, Town Park planners and the Snowmass Western Heritage Association revealed that some of the association’s opposition was the result of mixed signals and mixed messages, not conflicting interests in the future of Town Park.
“We’re very excited, and we want to be full partners in the future of what happens not only for the rodeo grounds but as citizens; we really want to be part of the discussion for what the future looks like,” de Wetter said. “I think there is miscommunication, I think there’s misunderstanding. … We’re all very much on the same page — we’re in total alignment on space layout.”
And it’s the layout that council needed to approve to move forward, officials clarified.
“It’s really just a plan — it’s a plan with more detail to come,” Councilwoman Alyssa Shenk noted. Multipurpose ideas and individual design elements on the rodeo grounds can come into play during the design process but only if the town can move forward on that process.
“We can’t go anywhere if we keep going around in circles,” Councilman Tom Fridstein said. “We’ve got to move forward.”
The approval March 1 allows that forward motion, marking the next step toward that “long road ahead” for the revamp.
“It’s an expression of who we are,” said SWHA’s Knowlton. “This is something that is going to carry us forward.”
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