MOUNTAIN VILLAGE – Contrary to a series of meetings over the past few weeks in which some instances of upzoning proposed in the Mountain Village draft Comprehensive Plan have met with community criticism, the ideas put forth in the Town Hall Plaza subarea plan reviewed by the Mountain Village Town Council last Thursday received largely enthusiastic response.
“Since the Market [at Mountain Village] opened there, it has become such a vibrant hub for the town – a civic hub,” said Mayor Bob Delves. “To celebrate that, to enhance that by saying OK to the possibility of a lot more uses there of similar and related nature – it’s easy for people to get their head around, it’s easy to support.”
“I think this is a great area,” said Councilmember Cath Jett. “With planning and transportation it will be a wonderful place.”
“This is the easiest subarea plan for me to look at,” said Mayor Pro Tem Jonathan Greenspan. “This is our gateway to our community.”
The draft plan, compiled after more than two years of work by the ad-hoc Comprehensive Plan Task Force, was handed over to council last December for its review and eventual adoption. In it, the Town Hall Plaza subarea is envisioned as the “civic heart of the community” and suitable for a variety of uses including hotbeds, deed-restricted housing, a new medical center, professional offices, a school, a recreation center and a new children’s ski school.
Rather than label each portion of the subarea area with definitive uses, council regarded the plan with broader strokes.
“We have a tendency to get overly specific,” Delves explained. In this case, “We’re saying OK to variety of ideas that could happen in the area.”
Council agreed with a proposal to upzone two acres of active open space referred to as “Town Hall East” near the existing Bear Creek Lodge, to create 95 lodging units as well as additional retail and spa space. Failing hotbed development, however, it could also be used for deed-restricted housing.
Meanwhile, council liked a variety of uses along Mountain Village Boulevard where High Country Shipping and the Mountain Village Post Office currently make their homes.
While envisioned as the home of a future Telluride Medical Center in the event that the facility is unable to find a suitable location in Telluride, as is its stated preference, “It could be a lot of things,” said Delves.
“We’re not trying to pick a fight,” he continued.
If not the eventual home of a new medical center, the site is also seen as suitable for some sort of professional building, perhaps an outpatient center or medical or non-profit offices.
“It’s a building that could house current needs or future unknown needs that could help drive the economy,” Delves said.
Lots 1007 and 1008, located at the entry to the Town Hall area where Mountain Village Boulevard splits, are also seen as having tremendous development potential, with reconfiguration of the existing road.
“I am very interested in having a school somewhere in this area,” said Councilmember Dave Schillaci, responding to a request from Telluride R-1 School District at a previous meeting that a new elementary school site be designated in the Comprehensive Plan. According to school district officials, the proposed Mountain Village upzoning would add about 90 more students to already full, or nearly full facilities.
“I think it’s a great area, largely because we have the gondola here,” Schillaci said, adding that the site could also accommodate multiple uses.
“The real interesting idea there is that perhaps we could entice multiple taxing districts who draw significant amounts of tax revenue from Mountain Village to get together and build something that’s a win-win-win,” Delves explained.
One idea, for example, sees a new school that could do double duty as a public recreation center during after school hours, combined, perhaps, with satellite library and museum locations.
“We’ve got to get a lot more clever about shared uses and shared money,” Delves said. “Everybody doesn’t have to build their own temple.”
If one item included in the Town Hall subarea plan met with some skepticism, it was the proposal to relocate the Telluride Ski Resort Children's Ski and Snowboard School from its current location near Lift 4 to the Town Hall subarea.
“Our point of view on that is, where it currently is does not work,” said Telski Chief Executive Officer Dave Riley. Riley noted that if a plan to add hotbeds to the Gondola Plaza subarea becomes reality, the present children’s ski school area would no longer be available.
“We’re all fragmented right now; it’s not working and has no space for growth.”
Under the proposal, the adult ski school and the nursery would remain at their present core locations.
“This spot [the Town Hall relocation] doesn’t work [for me],” said council’s Greenspan, who is also a ski instructor. “I hear from clients that they don’t want to drop one set of kids one place and another set somewhere else,” he said, adding that “it makes no sense” to separate the resort’s nursery for infants and toddlers from its facilities for older children.
Local real estate agent Eric Fallenius also warned against moving the children’s ski school away from the core because of the vibrancy that would be lost.
In the end the majority of council remained in favor of the proposed children’s ski school relocation – figuring that Telski knows best where to locate its facilities.
“It would be inappropriate for council to say no, because that implies we know something about ski schools,” Delves said.
Still, a solution to manage safety and traffic concerns at the intersection described by Schillaci as “already dangerous” will need to be found in the event that the relocation proceeds.
Council also touched on more enhanced, active recreational uses for the Elk Pond, such as kayaking, paddle boating and fishing clinics.
“Instead of just being there and quiet all the time, it would make that another option for activities in Mountain Village,” said Community Development Director Chris Hawkins.
The Mountain Village Town Council will next discuss the draft Comprehensive Plan at a special meeting on Thursday, March 10, from 4-7 p.m. at the Mountain Village Town Hall. Topics will include potential revisions to the Mountain Village Center, Town Hall Plaza, Meadows and Boomerang and Comanche subareas by new parcel testing through a design charrette process, and a discussion of parcel testing parameters.