property prices drop
ASPEN – Although the greater Aspen area may end the year
with an increase in real estate transactions, the price paid
per square foot has been dropping.
As of Dec. 1, the record gross sales were $976 million, ahead
of last year, although possibly lagging behind the record from
two years. But all realtors quoted by The Aspen Times (Dec.
6) agreed that, with a few anomalies, buyers are paying less
per square foot, a trend expected to continue into next year.
“I just sold a house in the West End that is about 5,000
square feet, and it sold for $400 per square foot furnished,”
said Heidi Houston, of Houston and O’Leary. “You
tell me when was the last time that happened? Buyers are getting
$100 bonuses have airport workers smiling a
EAGLE COUNTY – For those working at Eagle County Regional
Airport, a smile this winter could be worth a hundred bucks.
The county commissioners have allocated $10,000 to be distributed
in the form of $100 bonuses to employees who are friendly to
travelers. The bonuses are eligible to 300 employees at the
airport, from those in retail shops to baggage handlers. Officials
said they want travelers to notice smiles, something they say
makes a difference in their own travels after 9/11.
Eagle County’s government is aggressively pushing its
airport, which primarily serves Vail and Beaver Creek, and to
a lesser extent, the Aspen/Snowmass resorts. The county is buying
$60,000 in magazine advertisements with the hope of filling
existing daily flights. Beginning in about 1996, nearly half
the skier days at Vail and Beaver Creek were funneled through
Eagle County hopes to see more flights. It is working on getting
a 120-foot control tower, and also is aiding an effort to get
a federal customs agent to accommodate international flights.
Finally, the county has advanced $150,000 in seed money to guarantee
Starbucks greeted with chilly reception in
FRASER – Even as Intrawest prepares to start developing
real estate at the base of Winter Park, bumper stickers saying,
“Friends don’t let friends drink Starbucks,”
are showing up in anticipation of a Starbucks opening at the
The Winter Park Manifest (Dec. 4) reports some residents believe
Safeway is betraying local residents by not only importing an
inferior brew, but also competing with existing, nonchain coffee
shops. The Fraser town staff even looked into whether national
chains could be barred, an obvious irony given that Safeway
is a national chain.
Safeway Manager Mike Gray thinks the issue is simple: “This
being America, our economy is based on free will. I don’t
interfere with free will.” And if people want locally
owned coffee shops to remain, he said, they should practice
what they preach.
Meanwhile, Starbucks is also going into a Safeway in Frisco,
creating two Starbucks within a few blocks. The Summit Daily
News (Dec. 5) reports the chain has discovered that proximity
of Starbucks to one another does not hurt sales.
Tetons greet SLC travelers
SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH – When travelers arrive at Salt
Lake International Airport, they see a picture of towering,
rugged mountains superimposed with the print: “Welcome
to Salt Lake City.”
The mountains, however, are not the nearby Wasatch Mountains
or even the more distant Uintahs or Henrys. They’re the
Tetons of Wyoming.
A worldwide advertising agency puts generic scenic shots into
spaces it doesn’t sell, which is how the Wyoming photo
ended up in the Utah airport. Photos of the Maroon Bells near
Aspen and Mount Sneffels near Ridgway also have a habit of ending
up in the wrong places, if there can ever been a wrong place
for such gems.
Man wins car, sells it and donates money to
KETCHUM, IDAHO – Before going to a benefit raffle, Ben
Young told himself that if he won he’d sell the grand-prize
Subaru and give a portion of the money to Young Life, a nondenominational
Christian ministry that reaches out to adolescents.
Young won and he did, giving $10,000 to the organization while
pocketing the rest. He told the Idaho Mountain Express (Nov.
27) that he saw the money as a gift and hence, also a responsibility.
As for the portion he kept, the 28-year-old figured he’d
take buddies out for an extravagant night on the town or go
traveling around the world.
Lake Louise may erect fence to keep grizzlies
out of town
LAKE LOUISE, ALBERTA – Parks Canada has set a goal of
conceding one loss to the grizzly bear population from human
contact in Banff National Park each year. The average for the
last several years has been three. Another five deaths were
noted farther down the Bow River Valley on the way toward Calgary.
One cause of grizzly bear deaths is being hit by cars or trucks
and another is the result of them getting too close to towns
or villages. One of the villages within Banff is Lake Louise,
the ski area base, where park officials have studied the idea
of a fence around the town to prevent grizzlies from traipsing
The Rocky Mountain Outlook (Dec. 5) reports that several of
Lake Louise’s 1,700 year-round residents told Parks Canada
to wait on the fence, but if they do build it, then consult
with the locals to make it as unobtrusive as possible. There
are to be gates, for people to leave the resort in order to
hike into the surrounding national park.
Thanksgiving meteor may have hit near Crested
CRESTED BUTTE – On Thanksgiving night, people across
several states saw a large fireball in the early evening. Videotapes
from new all-sky cameras recently installed across Colorado,
including one at a middle school in Gunnison, suggest the meteorite
exploded somewhere between Crested Butte and Gunnison.
“We think it’s a meteor,” said Julia Taylor,
from the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. “And it
was a big one.” Experts estimate the meteor was the size
of a filing cabinet, huge by standards of interstellar space.
It exploded 10 to 20 miles above the ground, reports the Crested
Butte News (Dec. 6).
Eisenhower Tunnel hits 10 million earlier than
EISENHOWER TUNNEL – Car and truck counters at the Eisenhower
Tunnel hit 10 million on Dec. 5, the earliest ever, and numbers
are expected to hit 11 million before the year is over.
Even at the smaller count, noted the Summit Daily News (Dec.
6), that’s enough traffic that, if all were Subaru Outback
Wagons placed bumper to bumper, they would wrap around the equator
1BC times. They’re not, of course. Most cars and trucks
on Interstate 70 are actually bigger.
Traffic volumes exceeded forecasts almost as soon as the Eisenhower
Tunnel and its companion bore, the Johnson, opened in 1973 and
1978 respectively. “Our projections went out the window
10 to 15 years ago,” said Mike Salamon, tunnel supervisor.
Particularly on summer and ski-season weekends, the highway
clogs, sometimes slowing to a snail’s pace. That gridlock
prompted creation of a cable television channel in Breckenridge
called I-70 TV, which allows travelers to watch traffic flow
before they set out.