Mel B

Way back in the early days of my part-time residency in Snowmass Village, I was rebellious and a lot angrier, but as mentioned a couple weeks ago I’m now just a mellow commentator, chilling out on all the wonders of paradise. 

In those early days I couldn’t accept the fact that neither the powers that be nor the full-time residents gave a rat’s ass about what part-time residents wanted or cared about even though we collectively own the vast majority of residential property and pay most of the taxes in the village. 

I was outraged they didn’t appreciate all we part-timers brought to the table so that the locals could enjoy a lifestyle in this community that without us and our resources would be all but impossible to achieve. 

But then a wise local mentor cleared up the mystery for me. I was wrong: They do appreciate all that we do but just don’t want us meddling in what they’ve come to feel entitled to by reason of living and working in the village year-round.

There was no way they’d ever agree to give us a formal voice in the local decision-making process. Too much fear that our overwhelming numbers might negatively impact their desired lifestyle.

With this realization in hand, I, along with several other angry renegades and a couple of fair-minded locals, convinced the powers that be to at least give an informal voice to the part-time constituency. Thus, in 2005, the town council established and appointed a five-member board which is known as the Part-Time Residents Advisory Board.

Although the bureaucrats drafted language in the municipal code that gave them comfort that we part-timers wouldn’t be able to do anything that might upset them or their full-time constituents, we in fact became strong advocates for the part-time constituency and a force to be dealt with in the dialogue concerning critical issues of the day. Not the least of which was the demise of the dysfunctional Snowmass Village Resort Association as well as the whole Base Village brouhaha and the subsequent compromises that were eventually worked out between the developers and the community.

For many years, those of us who sat on the original advisory board tilted at all kinds of windmills on behalf of our constituents who would not otherwise have had a voice in the local decision-making process.

But as often happens over time, many who fought the good battles at the beginning were worn down by the resistance to our advocacy and moved on. 

Unfortunately, many of those who replaced the founding board members were not comfortable fulfilling a strong advocacy role nor did they spend much, if any, time keeping up to date on the intricate details of local issues. They took the easy path and over time came to rely more and more on what had been fed to them by the town’s bureaucrats. 

Rather than strongly and persuasively advocating for and on behalf of their constituents, the board became just another PR tool used by bureaucrats and elected officials to deliver their self-serving messages and points of view to the part-time residents.

But change is in the air. The original mission of the advisory board may soon see the light of day once again. There are one or two renegades on the current board and they’re expressing a desire to return to the original advocacy role of the board.

There are lots of big issues ahead in the village. At the top of the list is the massive redevelopment of the Snowmass Center; huge amounts of additional development in and around Base Village for which East West Partners, SkiCo and their finance partner will be seeking substantial revisions of their approved development plans; taxpayer subsidized construction of vast amounts of new workforce and senior retirement housing; a massive new transit center at the Mall; a push by the town bureaucrats to further urbanize the village with all form and manner of concrete, asphalt and the ever-wondrous construction of more roundabouts throughout the village.

These and lots of other projects are in the wings just waiting to tap the pockets and souls of the part-time constituency. It’s time for our advocates to engage and represent our interests in all that lies ahead.  

The bureaucrats, elected officials and the full-time population likely won’t welcome our voices or any interference with their vision for the community. But since we’re paying most of the tab and are as passionate as they are about the community, I think it’s only fair that they give due consideration to our wishes and desires for the community along with theirs. 

Who knows? With a return to strong advocacy, enlightened thinking and a bit of good luck, someday soon a part-time resident may be sitting at the council table alongside the elected decision makers in an informal advisory role, or, god willing, a formal role in the debates and a vote when the decisions are being made concerning the big issues of the day affecting all our lives in the community. Now wouldn’t that be an exemplary statement of groundbreaking leadership and refreshing progress?

Your comments are welcome at justmel1@earthlink.net & Twitter @MelDBlumenthal.