Around The Hoop

Snowmass not running on fumes ... yet

By Troy Hooper
Real AspenSeptember 22, 2010

Cover up: They've resorted to draping plastic over unfinished business in Snowmass Village.
Troy Hooper
Imagine a town with no gas station.

In a perfect world, there would be no need for such a business. We would all ride bicycles, skip from our homes to our offices and drive carbon-free spaceships to far-flung locales at the speed of light.

But in Snowmass Village the prospect is less than ideal for many residents who fear their only public fueling station, the Snowmass Center Conoco, may have to close up shop through no fault of its own. The land beneath it is in foreclosure, creating uncertainty about whether Conoco's lease is still in effect.

And the guys who own the Snowmass Center Conoco point out that they don't just run “a gas station.” They run “a service station” that provides a multitude of functions that are — arguably — essential to the community. Fixing flat tires, helping motorists who have run out of gas, jump-starting vehicles, washing cars and selling propane are among the services that the Snowmass Center Conoco provides.

Jeff Head and Jeff Jandegian
Troy Hooper

There would be a lot of fallout if Snowmass Village — or any ski town in Colorado for that matter — lost its service station. Think about all the extra traffic it would put on the roads, particularly from the the lodging and property management vans that regularly make pit stops at the town's only fueling post. And the guys at Conoco, “Big” Jeff Jandegian and “Little” Jeff Head, point out if the gas station goes, so might a lot of other money that would otherwise be spent in Snowmass. If residents are forced to get on Highway 82 to refuel, why not try to find the most competitive prices for their other needs too?

The gas station's story is one of a few laid out in a piece I wrote for the Snowmass Sun that hit newsstands today as part of a larger package on how foreclosures are changing Snowmass Village before our very eyes. Snowmass Sun Editor Madeleine Osberger wrote an accompanying piece outlining how there are more losers than winners when a property is auctioned off at the county courthouse steps.

The Snowmass Center Conoco
Troy Hooper

The good news is that after some difficult times, it would appear there is nowhere to go but up for Snowmass Village. But at least one respected local told the Snowmass Sun that things could still get worse before they get better. That said, the mood I sensed from the interviews I did up there was hopeful. Business owners were candid about how bad things have gone. But they were optimistic this winter will be something to build from, with one innkeeper telling me numbers were trending up.

There's also a new transit building that is supposed to open this winter.

But what about the gas station?

All the parties involved are hopeful a deal will work out.

But, if you live in Snowmass or plan to visit there, you might want to keep plenty of gas in your tank and a AAA card handy in case it doesn't.

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