By Allen Best
Doctor ordered to sell
ASPEN, Colo. – An obstetrician and gynecologist who works part-time in Aspen has been ordered to sell his deed-restricted affordable housing because he hasn’t spent enough time in Aspen.
Because the house was built through a city-subsidized program intended to provide housing for the local workforce, it must be occupied a minimum of 275 days a year. But the doctor, Kenton Bruice, also worked in Denver and failed to meet that threshold.
The Aspen Times reports that directors of the municipal agency that oversee the housing program said he must try to sell the house. However, it’s possible that the doctor may come into compliance while the house is on the market by shifting his work commitments or by putting the house in the name of his wife, who does spend more time in Aspen.
The Times reports that the Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority spends $145,000 annually investigating complaints that people have abused the system.
During the last three years, 88 allegations of infractions were filed, resulting in 25 owners of deed-restricted housing and 14 renters being ordered to sell or vacate.
Dusty snowpack an argument for wilderness
DURANGO, Colo. – Dust has always blown upwards from the deserts of the American Southwest during winter and spring months. But until scientist Tom Painter, now of Park City, Utah, began studying the phenomenon in 2003, nobody paid all that much attention except for backcountry skiers, who were inclined to note it as a curiosity.
With Painter, several scientists have cobbled together evidence that, taken together, represent an interesting and possibly compelling theory.
Dust deposition dropped after the U.S. government imposed regulations on livestock grazing in the 1930s, but levels have spiked again in recent years. Livestock, off-road vehicles, human development, dirt roads and weather have all contributed.
The dust seems to be a problem in that it absorbs solar radiation, causing the snow on which it is deposited to melt more rapidly. Painter, working with Chris Landry of the Center for Snow and Avalanche Studies at Silverton, Colo., has concluded that the dust-on-snow expedites runoff by several weeks. The earlier runoff means less water remains later in summer, when it is needed so badly.
The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance has cited this as a good reason to designate 1.3 million acres of public lands in that area as wilderness.
Time to head in reverse?
WHISTLER, B.C. – Baby boomer Michel Beaudry has gotten a new knee of plastic and titanium, and he sounds doubtful about how well this will help his skiing. The fancy new knees, one surgeon told him, were designed to “help 80-year-old men get to the toilet without too much pain.”
There are no all-terrain artificial knees for younger geezers, Beaudry confides.
And that’s too bad for the ski industry, which continues to depend overwhelmingly on young geezers. But eventually baby boomers, too, will disappear.
“Too big and too industrial to really connect with the boomer’s children (the so-called ‘Millenials’) – and never really a solid hit with gen-X’ers – Whistler still depends largely on those aging 40- and 50-year-olds with the still-deep pockets and Peter Pan attitudes. But it’s only a matter of time….”
Beaudry’s solution is a familiar one for his regular readers in Pique Newsmagazine. He says less will be more – an idea foreign to current managers at Whistler.
“The more stuff we build on the mountain, the more we overwhelm the distinctive magic to be found there. Yet ‘progress’ is always associated with building ‘more stuff.’ Especially at Whistler-Blackcomb.”
Beaudry calls for a future that more resembles the past.
“Remember when everything above timberline was fair game to those who climbed for their powder? Seems like a long ago now. But it’s not, really. Some of my best days this past winter were spent hiking up Whistler Mountain when storms shut down the upper lifts.”
Vail areas finish strong
BROOMFIELD, Colo. – Vail Resorts, with four ski areas in Colorado and one in California, reports increased revenues during ski season. Chief executive Rob Katz said the company saw lots of lucrative destination visitors, especially during spring break and at Easter.
As a result, lift ticket revenue increased 4.6 percent, ski school revenues rose 8.3 percent, and rental and retail revenue was 8.1 percent greater. Overall, skier visits were up 2.3 percent at the five resorts.
Park City picks up
PARK CITY, Utah – Business picked up in Park City this winter, with city officials estimating gross receipts growing 5.8 percent compared to the last ski season.
Bookseller Liza Simpson told the Salt Lake Tribune that she did even better. “The store was busy all winter. Overall, it wasn’t anything to start a parade about, but it’s moving in the right direction.”
Ski season proved more lucrative than most people had feared. But there has been a change. Visitors on ski vacations continue to buy lift tickets, but they haven’t been spending as freely on eating and shopping, explained Bill Malone, executive director of the Park City Chamber of Commerce.
“The (rebounding stock) market has helped, but there is still a little bit of a gut-check when it comes to vacation spending,” he said.
Canmore aims to grow tourism
CANMORE, Alberta – Canmore’s municipal government has issued a report calling for a 10 percent growth in tourism by 2015. Among the drivers identified in the report is the often-mentioned, loosely defined health and wellness sector. The report also sees business growth based on knowledge-based and arts sector specialists. But the report did not identify a link between sports-recreation and increased tourism.
Real estate sales rise in Jackson
JACKSON, Wyo. – The Jackson Hole Report, a quarterly real-estate analysis for Teton County and adjoining areas, reports 137 percent more sales for January, February and March as compared with 2009.
Report authors David Viehman and his daughter, Devon Wheeldon, warn against too much excitement. The 67 sales this year compared with 29 last year for the same period. But before the market tumble, there were up to 219 sales.
Moreover, increased sales don’t immediately mean increased prices. Some prices are back to 2004 levels, according to their report. They also note the most dramatic improvement was in the market for condos and townhomes.