By Allen Best
Vail debates value of sculpture
VAIL, Colo. – What is art worth? The Vail Town Council has revisited that famous question in deciding the fate of an outdoor sculpture that has been in storage for the last five years.
The art was originally commissioned in 1999 to be placed in Seibert Circle, at Vail’s oldest and still most prominent ski portal. It was created by a Texas artist, Jesus Moroles. But people just didn’t hang out at the art, a series of stones, meant to represent Vail and the Gore Valley in which it is located.
At length, the town put the art into storage and replaced it with something that worked out better.
Moroles’s star has been rising, however, and some local art dealers in Vail think that the piece might now be worth $2 million. That led to a proposal to get the art out of the municipal closet and into more prominent display in a park. The cost of additional placement was estimated at $260,000.
Some critics say the town could use the money to better advantage. But Margaret Rogers, a city council member, sees the Moroles’s art as a draw, especially among Texans. “Art lovers – that’s a niche in the travel industry we’d like to get a bigger piece of,” she told the Vail Daily.
A prominent local activist, Jim Lamont, who directs the Vail Homeowners Association, has been skeptical. “What down the road, do we need to do to keep the economy afloat?” he asks. “I’m of the mind that art installations don’t do it.”
Vail hopes to steal market share
VAIL, Colo. – Vail Resorts Inc. continues to calculate how it can steal market share from other resorts while building real estate at the base of Vail Mountain.
Ever Vail, this gleam in the company’s eye, has already been in the planning for a decade. It would cover 12 acres, connect to the ski mountain via a new gondola, and has a price tag of $1 billion.
There would be 428 housing units, and in announcing revised plans, company officials emphasized that 60 percent of buyers would likely be new to Vail. The company identifies the price range as $350,000 to $450,000, at the low end for slope-side housing units of 1,500 square feet in Vail.
“We’re opening up the capacity for new people to come here,” said Tom Miller, project manager for Ever Vail.
From the outset, Vail Resorts had described the project as one designed for new generations of buyers, Gen X and Gen Y.
“We believe we’ll be one of, if not the only, resort community that’s going to be able to market new product – that’s going to pull people away from these other resort communities,” said Kristin Kenney Williams, speaking at a recent meeting covered by the Vail Daily.
Plans also call for a 102-room hotel plus 15,564 square feet of retail, which is 30 percent less than what was previously announced. Now, the company says it doesn’t want to compete with existing business. It does, however, plan a 13,000 square-foot specialty grocery store plus 1,400 parking spaces.
Also in the works: an 80-foot indoor climbing wall.
Naturalists scoff at via ferrata
BANFF, Alberta – Earlier this year officials from Parks Canada announced they’d review a proposal to install a thrill ride called a via ferrata. The via ferrata would not be directly related to the natural landscape of Banff, but would draw additional visitors, supporters say.
A group called the Bow Valley Naturalists disagrees, insisting that Canadians want national parks as places “where the natural world may be experienced on its own terms: no gimmicks, no bells and whistles,” in the words of Mike McIvor, in a letter excerpted in the Rocky Mountain Outlook.
Writing in the same publication, Jeff Gailus insists that “this push for more, more, more is being driven largely by the apparently shameless business lobby in Banff National Park, especially ski hills looking to enhance the summer use of facilities that Parks Canada policy already recognizes as less than appropriate …”
“Reading between the lines, we can all see that the real impetus for via ferrata and other titillations is to make commercial operators in our national parks ‘competitive’ (and more profitable) with their counterparts outside the parks,” he continues.
Does Whistler need more?
WHISTLER, B.C. – Most of the big questions of the ski world seem to get asked in Aspen first, and so it was that Aspen in the 1970s began asking: How much is too much?
Aspen kept growing, eventually getting the four-lane highway that it had so long opposed, although not in the same manner as it might have. Much open space remains in this country club of the rich and hive of worker bees.
In Winter Park, where Intrawest was developing real estate several years ago, its motto was: “Just enough.”
However much that was.
Meanwhile, in Whistler, the same conversation continues in a different way. Taking stock of his community of the last 11 years, staff writer Andrew Mitchell of Pique Newsmagazine notes many losses: starry skies, empty restaurant tables, and so on. Just the same, he contends Whistler must diversify its portfolio of amusements and interests to match its hefty bed base.
“None of us planned to move to a city, but we’re living in one all the same. And while it’s nice to pretend that we’re still a small town, the reality is that we’re a massive resort with a small town’s worth of things to do,” he writes.
He suggests another ski hill, more buskers to give the village square more life and character, and perhaps a loosening of the nudity laws that would allow restoration of the once-famous wine raves.
“We’re huge. And reflecting on what Whistler used to be will not bring our stars back,” he says.
JACKSON, Wyo. – A policy adopted at Jackson Hole High School prohibits overtly sexual dancing, kissing or making out, as well as touching private parts and replicating sex acts. The policy also addresses drug, alcohol and tobacco use at school dances, as well as what kind of music can be played.
A school official tells the Jackson Hole News&Guide that the policy was not created to correct past behaviors, but to ensure that there is no behavior to be corrected in the future.
“Front to front and front to back dancing is acceptable, but both dancers must remain completely vertical at all times,” the policy says.
The policy also requires that music played for dances must be suitable for radio broadcast, meaning that profanity has been expurgated.