More visitors spend
less at Yellowstone and Teton
JACKSON HOLE, WYO.—Visitation
was up 2 percent this summer at the south gate of Yellowstone
National Park and 4 percent at Grand Teton National Park, but
those visitors were spending less – except on gas.
“I think we see people
being a little bit more frugal while they’re here,”
said Chris Hansen, marketing manager for the Jackson Hole Chamber
of Commerce. “Not as many high-end purchases, not as many
nights out at restaurants.”
Statistics from Grand Teton
in August support that observation. While visitation rose only
slightly, campgrounds were busier and the backcountry even more
But the big story this year,
says the Jackson Hole News (Sept. 25-Oct. 1) may be the boom
in recreation vehicles. RV counts jumped 14 percent in Grand
Teton during August, compared to the same month last year. Gas
sales at the Grand Teton Lodge Co.’s
posh Jackson Lake Lodge were up 5 to 8 percent. However, few
of the RVs stopped in nearby Jackson, where parking is at a
Home prices flat over last two years in Summit County
SUMMIT COUNTY —Real estate prices
have been flat for the last two years in Summit County, and
in some cases they have dipped. The trend was noted about 18
months ago at River Run, the Intrawest real estate project at
the base of Keystone. There, buyers had been pushed to get a
piece of mountain real estate before it was all gone. Plenty
did, apparently thinking they could turn around the condos for
a quick profit in the resale market. Instead, prices on such
units have been 15 percent below the original price.
But it’s not just Keystone. Both
the Summit Daily News (Sept. 30) and the Denver Post have recently
carried stories on the glut of real estate and the flat and
dropping prices. The Multiple Listing Service is now showing
more than 2,000 properties, not including timeshares or property
for sale by owners or developers.
Perhaps most telling, properties have been
on the market for 203 days before selling. That compares with
100 days in a booming market. As a result, people have backed
away from how much profit they’re trying to make in resales.
In some cases, properties are being offered at prices less than
what they were asking three years ago. The overall story, said
the Summit Daily News, is that prices have been flat for two
There is, however, anecdotal and limited
hint of change. Several real estate brokers suggested that sales
picked up over the summer. However, that observation so far
seems to lack statistical confirmation.
Downtown marketing tax being debated in Park City
PARK CITY, UTAH—City officials have
cautiously agreed to sponsor a proposal to tax businesses on
Park City’s Main Street, with the money being returned
to an organization that wants to market the business district.
The proposal, says the Park Record (Sept. 25-28), is likely
to spark the most contentious debate about Main Street since
the City Council approved paid parking in 1997.
A similar proposal several years ago was
voted down by a three-to-one margin by Main Street businesses.
However, that proposal would have cost average businesses between
$700 and $800 a year. This new proposal from the Main Street
Business Alliance seeks to lighten the load. Only a few businesses
would be charged the maximum $1,000 a year, based on square
footage and business type. Most retailers would pay $200 to
$300 a year; restaurants would pay $300 to $500 a year. Taxing
authority would be contained within a new Old Town Business
A poll commissioned by the business alliance
found this new proposal is supported by affected businesses
by an 8-to-1 margin. Dissenters argue that the organization
that conducts marketing needs greater accountability.
Main Street has been the top commercial
draw in the area for 40 years is facing new competition from
developments at local ski resorts as well as the factory-outlet
Camper dies of exposure high in Utah’s Uinta
KAMAS, UTAH—A 42-year-old man died
after a camping trip in the high Uinta Range of Utah.
According to The Park Record (Sept. 25-27)
Authorities said two men had gone camping at about 10,000 feet
and they didn’t bother to eat that much. The combination
of cold and lack of nutrition may have made the victim hypothermic.
The victim’s hiking partner said the victim had begun
acting “kind of weird.”
Mom gets big air time for her 80th birthday gift
JACKSON, WYO.—When growing up in
Maine, Arelena Hawkins often imagined soaring with the birds.
But work as a bookkeeper, the duties of raising children and
all the other phases of living interrupted the dream.
But finally, when approaching her 80th
birthday, Hawkins’ daughter decided it was time that mom
caught flight. Now living in Jackson Hole, the daughter gave
her visiting mother a certificate to go paragliding. Mom took
to it like a natural. She only wished the 15-minute ride had
The flight, reported the Jackson Hole News
(Sept. 25-Oct. 1) was flawless from smooth take-off to picture-perfect
landing, which Hawkins likened to “sliding into second
base.” The only discomfort she would admit to was the
cumbersome harness that attached her to the paragliding instructor.
“I felt like a turtle with that harness on my back, it
was so big and heavy,” she said.
Hawkins isn’t going into the night
gently. She has been hot-air ballooning several times in recent
years, took a helicopter ride around Denali ( a.k.a. Mount McKinley)
and went whitewater rafting on the Snake River.
“It’s not for everybody,”
she said of her latest adventure.
Paper says gravel pit a
good reminder of town’s roots
WESTCLIFFE —Westcliffe is the commercial
and intellectual center for the Wet Mountain Valley, one of
Colorado’s least traveled places where ranches sweep up
to 14,000-foot peaks in the Sangre de Cristos. So, it’s
no coincidence that calendar photographer John Fielder, Colorado’s
most successful merchandiser of outdoor scenery in the last
century, named his publishing company Westcliffe.
But despite its ranching and mining roots,
Westcliffe has been getting gussied up in the last 10 or 20
years. It has a jazz festival, coffee that smells good and other
such things. It also has needs for a gravel pit, which is now
being planned along the highway, 10 miles from the town. Said
pit, with its noise, dust and heavy truck traffic, is drawing
objections from residents who prefer the quiet ranching lifestyle
that attracted them.
The Wet Mountain Tribune (Sept. 26) is
having none of it. “Now, we like peace and quiet as well
as anybody, but we think that public sentiment is beginning
to push the limit of what is reasonable and realistic for our
county,” said the newspaper. “Despite its recent
leanings toward gentrification, Custer County remains a bastion
for cow-punchers, loggers and construction workers.
True, the economic forces of the 21st century
have given our county more real estate salesmen than hardrock
miners. And yes, we have the trappings of the Aspens and the
Jackson Holes, what with espresso shops and art galleries and
gourmet restaurants. But thankfully, there are still plenty
of guys with cow crap on their boots who drive their muddy pickup
trucks into town. We remain, despite it all, a working-class
Six-story parking garage
being studied in Aspen
ASPEN —Aspen’s downtown area
is in a funk, for reasons not completely understood. But several
committees have identified the lack of parking as a problem.
The only public parking structure in town accommodates 340 cars,
but that structure, the Rio Grande garage, is often filled during
Now comes a new idea. A property that currently
consists of an office building and an A-frame house that is
being used for offices could be razed. In its place would go
a six-story garage that is being billed as “luxury parking
in downtown Aspen.” Three stories would be above ground,
and elevators would be used to shuttle cars between floors,
reports the Aspen Times (Sept. 27).
Parking spaces would be sold like condominiums,
and when not in use by their owners would be placed in a short-term
pool. The idea is similar to that employed in Vail in the mid-1990s,
when the Golden Peak base area was redeveloped. Parking spaces
there sold for up to $40,000.
When the space owner is in town, he or
she notifies the management and the space is reserved. When
the owner is gone, the management puts the space into the rental
pool. Public parking would cost a premium for the first hour,
with descending rates thereafter. That’s in reverse of
most municipal parking structures, where the first hour is the
cheapest. Specific prices have not yet been determined. Elected
and appointed boards in Aspen are scheduled to hear the plan
Sheriff has one book out and hoping to write others
TELLURIDE—Bill Masters isn’t
the first county sheriff to write the book, but he may be the
first author of any background to have a book-signing at a Conoco
The gas station, he confided to The Telluride
Watch (Sept. 20), may have sold more copies of his book than
any other outlet. A sheriff in San Miguel County since 1979,
he wrote Drug War Addiction: Notes from the Front Lines of America’s
#1 Policy Disaster. (Accurate Press, 2001).
Masters wrote the book at the urging of
friends and members of the Libertarian Party. With the help
of a Kinkos, Masters did a 24-copy test run for a Libertarian
meeting in Aspen. Ironically, or perhaps not, every copy at
that meeting was stolen.
When Masters finally sent it out to publishers, he made a deal
with the first one that called.
The only registered Libertarian Party sheriff
in the country, Masters lectures around the country on the Libertarian
philosophy of responsibility and individual liberty. He said
he hopes readers will think about laws, government accountability
and the limits of reasonable government intervention as they
read his book.
Masters’s future plans call for writing
a memoir and a novel, and a book called Police Work for the
Tech downturn ripples to music concerts in
VAIL—Alberto Vilar floated
with the rising waters of high tech, and lately he’s been
sinking with them. But that doesn’t mean that the arts
organizations to which he has promised millions shouldn’t
expect the money.
The New York Times reported that
Vilar was late with $1.7 million in payments to two arts organization,
one in New York City and the other in Washington D.C. It turns
out he’s also late in delivering money to the Bravo! Vail
Valley Music Festival. He had promised $500,000 for three summers,
beginning this year. That money was crucial in the ability of
festival organizers to secure the services of the New York Philharmonic.
The money now isn’t expected to be delivered until late
this year, which organizers say is causing them to scramble.
Still, the Vail Daily (Sept. 27) was unable to discern any hard
feelings. Jon Giovando, director of Bravo!, said he there has
been no indication from Vilar that the pledge will not be met.