By Allen Best
Sick of winter
BRECKENRIDGE, Colo. – In Breckenridge, which has a base elevation of 9,600 feet, impatience has set in with icy sidewalks, rising road-side berms, and alleys lost under the winter coating.
Part of the annoyance has to do with reduced snowplowing service. While the network of roads has expanded in recent years, the amount of staffing devoted to clearing them has declined. Town officials say they have reduced their Cadillac-level services to those of a Subaru.
“When we go back and look at what we think is sustainable financially, those are some of the realities that have come about in trying to be financially responsible,” explained town spokeswoman Kim DiLallo.
More vert in Jackson
JACKSON, Wyo. – Proponents of a vertical greenhouse adjacent to Jackson’s three-story public parking garage have first dibs on the land. The plan embraced by Jackson town officials would use innovative technologies to lengthen the notoriously short growing season in Jackson while employing local residents with disabilities. Vegetables and other produce from the greenhouse would be sold to local restaurants and stores.
Although the Jackson Hole News&Guide says that the town council gave the nod to the greenhouse proposal from a group called Vertical Harvest, details must still be worked out and money raised.
As in most things, there was a loser. An affordable housing group wanted the land, to build 14 rental units with a ground-level space that could have been rented out for commercial purposes, delivering ongoing revenue for future housing projects.
Hailey mulls bioreactor
HAILEY, Idaho – City officials in Hailey, located near Ketchum and Sun Valley, are looking at the potential of composting sewer sludge, grease from restaurants and septic tank waste in something called a bioreactor. Such bioreactors have been used by Japanese hotels, say city officials. The device would create 150-degree hot air, producing enough to heat 32 homes. But the cost is what caught the eye of readers: $8.1 million.
Efficiency before beauty?
BRECKENRIDGE, Colo. – Yesterday and tomorrow are clashing today in Breckenridge as town authorities evaluate installation of solar panels in a public area adjacent to the Riverwalk Center, a performing arts facility.
The town government wants to erect solar panels on a variety of public buildings, including the golf course clubhouse, the ice arena, and the recreation center. More controversial is the plan for 10 stand-alone solar arrays along the parking lot for the Riverwalk Center, whose grounds are also used for weddings and other events.
That, according to some, is not the right place. “Councils long before me have created codes to maintain the historic beauty of Breckenridge,” says one council member, Mark Burke. “Solar panels will never be historical.”
But he was on the losing end of a 5-2 vote by the town council. Representing the majority opinion was Jeffrey Bergeron. “There is an aesthetic cost to these (solar panels), but beauty’s in the eye of the beholder.”
By allowing use of the space, the town should make out like a bandit. The panels at the Riverwalk Center are expected to generate nearly a quarter of the building’s annual electricity, saving the town $6,700 in the first year alone.
Inventor makes save with call
VAIL, Colo. – Martin Cooper, now 82, was the leader of a team at Motorola that is credited with creating the first cell phone. That was in 1973, and his name is on the original patent.
Recently, he was skiing at Vail, where he has a condominium. He took a friend and business associate for a few runs, but his companion quickly disappeared after getting off a lift. Cooper had no idea what had happened to him while he waited.
It turns out the companion, Masami Yamamoto, had skied off the side of the run and dropped 10 feet down to a narrow ledge in a wooded area. But his leg got caught on the rope that marked the edge of the run, preventing him from going down further on the steep slope. The problem was that it left him upside down, unable to rescue himself.
As explained by Cooper in the Vail Daily, when he returned home he called his friend, who had a cell phone. Eventually, Vail ski patrollers were able to discover his whereabouts and get him to safety.
PARK CITY, Utah – Despite the lingering economic downturn, developers in Park City have submitted plans for a 940,000 square foot project. The plan calls for demolition of existing buildings to make room for five-story buildings, perhaps even 10, and definitely more density than what now exists. They would house a multiplicity of uses: residences, offices, stores and possibly medical offices. The Park Record reports that it would be the largest redevelopment ever within the municipality.
Vail Resorts lays out plans
BROOMFIELD, Colo. – Vail Resorts did very, very well early in the ski season. The corporation reported improving revenues as visitors at its six resorts – four in Colorado and two in California – spent more money.
“Revenue is outpacing growth in lift ticket revenue and visitation,” explained Rob Katz, the chief executive, in a recent conference call with analysts in which the Vail Daily listened in.
He said mountain-related earnings were up $47.3 million over the same period last year. That includes $30.1 million in revenue from Northstar-at-Tahoe, the resort it purchased last year. Bundling ski passes to Heavenly, its other California resort, and Northstar proved a hit, he said.
Vail plans to continue reinvesting in its resort projects. Last year it spent $80 million in upgrades, and $83 million to $93 million this year – not counting another $30 million at Northstar.
With this strategy, Vail Resorts will continue to have the new-car smell at its resorts – and draw the highest-income and most free-spending visitors.
At Northstar, the company plans to increase skiable terrain by 10 percent this year and add a 500-seat on-mountain restaurant. Both can be done with a minimum of fuss, as the resort is located on private land, unlike most resorts in the U.S. West.
Aspen has its own Trails
The lowest-priced single-family home on the market in Aspen is listed for $559,000. It’s located in a trailer park. Contrast that to a fabulous $48.5 million mansion adjacent to the ski slopes that just hit the market. Which one’s perfect for you? Rich or poor, either way it’s gonna cost you. Aspen’s median price for single-family homes is now the highest in the country at $4.6 million, says San Francisco-based Altos Research, now surpassing the Hamptons, Beverly Hills and Palm Beach.
Housing markets in the rest of the country are struggle with anemic demand and foreclosures, but Aspen has forged its own orbit. The average home price in Aspen has only increased over the past four years, according to multiple-listings data.
Analysts say Aspen, where only 13% of land is able to be developed because of zoning laws and the mountainous landscape, never suffered the overdevelopment now plaguing other areas. Aspen’s distance from a major city and spotty air service also help keep away day tourists.
–Wall Street Journal