Mel Blumenthal

Not a lot going on in the valley during these quiet rain and snow drenched days, but just enough to reveal a few miscellaneous tidbits that might turn into much bigger stories down the road.

Local news sources are devoting a good deal of coverage to all the tax issues in the upcoming election, as well as where Aspen’s municipal offices will end up.

The Aspen City Council has blundered its way through the site selection process which ultimately resulted in a group of private citizens once again coming to the rescue and bailing them out of the hue and cry resulting from the council’s original decision.

As to tax issues on the ballot, several appear worthy, particularly those supporting the valley’s fire districts and the Healthy Community Fund. But a new property tax for RFTA is a lot more questionable.

RFTA already receives significant financial support from the collection of bus fares, dedicated sales taxes in municipalities up and down the valley, as well as significant federal, state and local transportation grants, not the least of which is a recently announced $2.2 million federal grant.

RFTA has access to multiple revenue sources that other worthy organizations don’t have, and thus is not as dependent on new or increased tax funding.

If not for all the recent new and increased taxes affecting communities in the Roaring Fork Valley, I likely wouldn’t be as negative concerning RFTA’s campaign for a new property tax. They do a great job which is worthy of our accolades and support, but enough is enough, at least for the time being.

The latest report concerning the sale of the Snowmass Club now has its closing scheduled at the end of this month. If in fact that occurs, the community needs to stay alert to any development plans the new owners may bring forward.

Word has it that the Snowmass Village town manager is salivating at the thought of adding lots of new employee housing on the grounds of the club, and that he’s likely to champion such a quid pro quo even though it negatively impacts the green open space entry to the village.  

Speaking of negative impacts, I suggest you take a trip up the newly paved and cemented Wood Road. In line with the town manager’s, public works director’s and community development director’s goal of urbanizing the village, observe all the new cement recently installed as an example of what they have in mind for the rest of the village.  

In addition to all the new cement sidewalks, take a gander at the huge and unattractive cement retaining wall behind the miniature bus stop that’s adjacent to the Enclave’s entrance. Not brilliant design planning by anyone’s standards and totally out of character for our rural-style village.

Just in case you think their urbanization of Wood Road is a one-off, keep an eye on their plans for another very expensive urbanized roundabout at the Owl Creek/Brush Creek intersection.

Plans for this project are moving along quickly, even though there are several other alternatives to easing traffic at this intersection that would be less impactful to the environment and the taxpayers.  

The Brush Creek/Wood Road roundabout as well as the comic Wood Road/Carriage Way roundabout were funded primarily by the Base Village developers. This new one will be funded by the village taxpayers. Watch your wallet, it’s about to be picked again.

 

Recent word from one of my admirers suggests a constructive solution to the debacle arising from Snowmass Village Town Council taking on the risks of owning Base Village Building 6.

Due to its lack of operational expertise and funding sources, he suggests rescinding the “front line” role of the non-profit that was originally established to support the ice age discovery and climate center.

He suggests the Town Council issue a mea culpa declaring they should have taken the money instead of the building, and wish to re-open that option with East West Partners. Concentrate on the cash option, and if East West is not interested now, wait until they need something from the town which likely won’t be too far down the road.

If his advice is followed, I’d espouse a newfound belief in the Town Council as a source of community benefiting outcomes — at least for a while.

Although this new ethos is seemingly a repudiation of my prior pugnaciousness, I think it worth a go, albeit, with trepidation as to my ability to achieve such a lofty change of state.

 

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

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