Kids play a game of pick-up basketball recently at the Snowmass Recreation Center. The Rec Center is the center of the town's entryway plan, which could see a new visage or some additional amenities in the future.
Credit: Madeleine Osberger / Aspen Journalism

SNOWMASS VILLAGE – Use the last piece of flat ground in Snowmass Village wisely when designing the town’s new front door, community members told town staff Tuesday during a meeting on the entryway.

It should be welcoming to guests, but not cluttered with buildings. Additional programming could augment what the recreation center, rodeo grounds, ball field and Jazz Aspen concert site already offer.

This early “visioning” about entryway planning – recently restarted after a recession hiatus – attracted planners, entryway committee members and a smattering of locals and second homeowners to the Snowmass Recreation Center.

Moderated by community development director Julie Ann Woods and town spokesperson Kelly Vaughn, participants were asked to share basic concepts of what’s appropriate for the entrance to Snowmass Village through “buzz words” written on Post-It notes.

Each meeting in what potentially could be a five-month process will see the ideas take a more narrow scope until a vision statement is crafted.

The site’s topography– level ground in a town of many hills – gives it incredible value, said John Borthwick, chair of the Marketing and Special Events Board.

“I think this site is multi-use by definition. Because it’s flat [there’s the temptation] to cram as much as possible into this space,” he said.

Stan Clauson, a designer of one of the entry’s early iterations, agreed.

“The entry shouldn’t be too dense and it should be attractive. In general, make this experience a beautiful one and not too dense with facilities,” he said.

Nature should continue to have a place in the area, especially because of the potential offered by wetlands. Dave Spence, general manager of Top of the Village, said he frequently hears guest requests for a fishing pond.

The trails in nearby Sky Mountain Park are another amenity that could tie-in to the entry.

Opportunities to redevelop the underused Town Park station and “Checkpoint Charlie” (the turnoff before the roundabout) have opened because a deed restriction on the 7 Star property was removed when it sold to the town.

Guests will still need to be served here, even if the deed-restriction is gone.

“A hot cup of coffee and a friendly face would be nice” when you arrive in Snowmass, said police chief Brian Olson. He suggested it would also cut down on the number of calls the police receive from lost guests.

Other suggestions include augmenting the recreation center with a facility similar to what Woodward offers at Copper Mountain. That could do double duty with a gymnastics facility.

Tom Yocum said the rodeo and ice rink do a great job with their multi-use facility.

The demands are many on a site with a modest past but tremendous potential.

Vaughn joked that winnowing down the requests is like putting “5,000 pounds in a five-pound bag.”

The next meeting will be a round table format. It’s set for Thursday, Sept. 11, from 4-6 p.m. in Town Hall.

Editor’s Note: Aspen Journalism and Aspen Daily News are collaborating on coverage of local government. The Daily News published this story on Wednesday, August 13, 2014. Follow reporter Madeleine Osberger on Twitter at madski99.