The goal of the project is to make the pavilion multi-use, while at the same time protecting existing uses, especially ice skating and hockey during the winter months.
At a meeting on Tuesday, several councilors stated they were now either on the fence about the project’s merits, or even outright opposed to spending the roughly $1 million budgeted out of the Town’s Parks and Recreation Fund in 2013 to convert the partially enclosed Pavilion structure and its ice rink into a fully enclosed multi-use facility that can double as an indoor theater and concert venue.
The project was fast-tracked last fall, when the Telluride Film Festival offered to contribute $750,000 toward enclosing the Pavilion and making other improvements by August 2013, for use as an ancillary theater for TFF’s upcoming 40th anniversary. Town officials initially planned on more modest improvements, over a five-year period, using a phased approach.
Tuesday’s discussion was intended as a work session to review the project’s conceptual plan and cost estimate, and for direction to the Project Management Team about how to move forward with the ambitious endeavor. With preliminary cost estimates for Tier 1 of the project coming in higher than expected, some aspects of the project deemed not essential to TFF were postponed until a later date, in order to keep the project under-budget.
Council’s concerns about the project, voiced most vehemently by councilors Thom Carnevale and Chris Myers, ranged from philosophical to practical – Is it a wise use of money, when so much of the town’s infrastructure is in urgent need of repair? Will proposed changes to the facility truly make it more multi-use, and will the facility’s carbon footprint grow, due to the proposed improvements? Worries were cited too about time constraints in finishing Phase 1 for this year’ festival, and about how much of TFF’s contribution would go toward general construction as opposed to items such as a projection booth that would only benefit the film festival.
As it stands now, the budget for fast-tracked “Tier 1” improvements to the Pavilion in 2013 is $1.75 million, and includes TFF’s $750,000 donation plus $75,000 from San Miguel County to purchase multi-use flooring for the facility. TFF recently committed an additional $50,000 toward the project to pay for windows otherwise not included in Tier 1. The Town of Telluride is on the hook to pay for the remainder of the project out of its own coffers.
Telluride Film Festival co-director Julie Huntsinger joined Tuesday’s meeting by speaker phone, assuring council that TFF is fully committed to the project, and will not withdraw its support even if the Pavilion project is not completed in time for Film Fest.
Gondola Traffic Jam Reveals Need for Improved Snowmaking
Mayor Stu Fraser reported at Tuesday’s meeting that the Telluride Ski and Golf Co. had approached the Town of Telluride over the holiday season, at the end of a particularly busy day, asking if town buses could be enlisted to help transport a huge traffic jam of skiers at the Mountain Village Gondola Station back to town.
Part of the reason for the traffic jam was that the “town” side of the mountain was closed to skiers, due to poor snow conditions.
Although Telski resolved the problem, Fraser said it drives home the importance of having snowmaking on the north side of the mountain, which is not now a priority for Telski. “What this did is it caused them to understand the issues facing our visitors if they don’t have access to the front side,” said Fraser, who plans to meet with Telski CEO Chuck Horning in the near future.
Councilman Bob Saunders agreed that the traffic jam was a great demonstration of the need for more dialog between the Town and the ski company. “There were people standing in line for an hour and a half,” he said. “It shows how important this side of the mountain is to skiing here.”
All agreed that what the ski area really needs is more natural snowfall. “But I think we would have to talk to someone a little higher than Chuck if we want to get that,” Fraser said.