Just one man shows at forum

PARK CITY, UTAH—There was a yawn and shrug in Park City when two religious organizations sponsored a candidates’ forum. Although candidates for everything from the courthouse to Congress were there, only one person not paid to be there showed up — a former city councilman, reports The Park Record (Sept. 28-Oct. 1). Presumably everybody else was at home watching television, hearing public policy issues argued in 30-second advertisements that cost thousands of dollars to buy and make the candidates beholden to campaign contributors.

Denver OKs Winter Park deal

DENVER– When Porter Wharton III worked as a lobbyist in 1998 for Pat Bowlen, owner of the Denver Broncos, he was able to turn the levers that got metropolitan Denver voters to build a tax-subsidized stadium for the Broncos. Now working full time for Vail Resorts Inc., Wharton was back in Denver recently to try to stop the City Council from consummating a deal with Intrawest. This time he failed.

The Denver City Council has approved the agreement with Intrawest that transfers management of the Denver-owned ski resort, Winter Park, to Intrawest. Intrawest is to pay Denver $3 million upfront, then $2 million a year. In addition, the agreement specifies that Intrawest will send at least $50 million during the coming decade to modernize the resort. However, Intrawest has said it will spend $99 million. While Intrawest also gets development rights to 140 city-owned acres at Winter Park’s base, Denver retains ownership of the resort.

As these details were being worked out, Vail Resorts rushed in, claiming violation of a previous deal between Intrawest and Vail Resorts, who have been jointly developing the River Run base area village at Keystone. That contract bars either Vail or Intrawest from doing a similar real-estate project near another ski area in Colorado’s four top counties, if the company also is managing the ski area.

Intrawest says it did not violate the contract, because it will not own Winter Park—it will only manage it. But some people wonder if the real purpose of the lawsuit wasn’t to prevent Intrawest from putting together season pass packages between Copper Mountain, its other Colorado resort.

Car ‘keying’ may be political

TELLURIDE—At least 15 upscale vehicles have been scratched with keys or other sharp objections since mid-summer, causing authorities to wonder if somebody is trying to make a political statement. First targeted were sports-utility vehicles like Expeditions and Tahoes. More recently, Mercedes and Volvos have been defiled. In the case of a Toyota Sequoia, the word “rat” was carved deep into the hood. The Telluride Watch (Sept. 24) reports such vandalism occurs rarely, and only then in such cases as disgruntled employees. Telluride Deputy Marshall John Wontrobski speculated that the current vandalism is a form of political statement, either to protest environmental costs of such cars or a resentment of the wealth that such vehicles represent.

Joan May, of the Sheep Mountain Alliance, the region’s most prominent environmental group, said if the vandalism was motivated by environmental goals, it fails. “It makes people go the other way, instead of bringing us together,” she said.

Goat hunter lives to tell tale

SUMMIT COUNTY—A 35-year-old goat hunter from Michigan spent a frigid night high up on Buffalo Mountain and lived to tell about it – because he was high on the mountain, in snow. Had he been a hundred feet lower, where it was raining, the hunter could have died of hypothermia.

The greater moral of the story is about wearing proper clothes for wet weather. “Since he was only wearing jeans and a flannel shirt, he certainly would have died of hypothermia,” local search and rescue coordinator Dan Burnett told the Summit Daily News (Oct. 3). “As it was, he kept brushing the snow off and didn’t get soaking wet. He was only super-miserable.”

The hunter had shot a goat in early afternoon, then followed it above timberline. He got caught in the storm high on the 12,777-foot peak. Using a cell phone, he talked to rescuers hourly, sleeping for five minute intervals. He was rescued by a helicopter first thing the next morning.

Resort may lack snowmaking

WINTER PARK—Despite late summer rains and early snow, the drought is so severe in Colorado’s Fraser Valley that water officials are openly talking about whether water will be trucked into the valley this winter for faucets, toilets and such at the ski area. Snowmaking at Winter Park’s Mary Jane complex may be impossible.

The problem for the ski area is two-fold. First, there’s the drought. According to which study you consult, these are the lowest streamflow levels in 150 to 300 years. Second, of that little water, Denver has many of the most senior rights. The Winter Park Manifest (Oct. 2) reports that if Denver uses its full water rights, only one cubic foot per second will be allowed past the diversion. Normally, even after diversions, the river flows three to four cubic feet during winter.

With this additional diversion, the river could freeze solid.






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