Renters rule Summit County

SUMMIT COUNTY – Landlords are king in Summit County during fall. But these are different times. This year they’ve even resorted to cutting rent. Renters, says the Summit Daily News (Dec. 19) now rule the housing market.

“It’s as soft as I’ve seen it in years,” said Chris Eby, a broker for Buyer’s Resource Real Estate.

“It just stinks,” said Julie Krumme, a rental manager who reported dropping rent from $1,200 for two-bedroom condominiums down to $975.

Theories abound. Take your pick: Overbuilding of homes has forced owners into renting long term, because the short-term rental revenue they planned on didn’t materialize; lower interest rates are causing former renters to become homeowners; and increased employee housing at resorts has decreased the need for private rentals.

Earlier this year Intrawest bought the Club Med building, converting it into 500 employee beds. Keystone Resort opened new Tenderfoot employee housing buildings two years ago.

Gypsum becoming gentrified

GYPSUM – Remember the old jingo, “cows not condos?” At Gypsum, located in the Vail-Glenwood Springs-Aspen triangle, the story is houses, not Herefords, as town officials massage plans to convert the former Albertson Ranch into a project with 27 holes of golf and 535 residential units. The expected market is grandparent-aged baby boomers.

For Gypsum, the essential question is how much will new residents transform the town? It is currently a place with a blue-collar feel and a factory smokestack as its most visible landmark, even if a golf course community opened there in the mid-1990s.

The developer, Russ Hatle, of Palm Desert, Calif., told the Eagle Valley Enterprise that he envisions home buyers as being people interested in Gypsum’s small-town feel, a place projected to grow to 10,000 residents or more during the next 20 years.

As always, the ranch is portrayed as having the best of both worlds – a small-town atmosphere with big-city attributes, including Vail Valley cultural attractions and restaurants, as well as a nearby airport that is becoming one of Colorado’s busiest.

With that development, nearly all ranches in the I-70 corridor between Denver and Glenwood Springs will have been carved up.

Electronic ticket checker used

SNOWMASS VILLAGE – Technology that will eliminate the need for ticket scanners is being tried in the ski school maze at one lift at Snowmass.

Lift tickets or ski passes are to be inserted into a scanner, and then the turnstile opens. Used in Europe for a decade and now elsewhere in the United States, this is a first for Colorado, reports the Aspen Daily News (Dec. 13).

Aspen won’t take Iraq stance

ASPEN – The Aspen City Council had been asked by several former council members to adopt a resolution against an attack on Iraq. With one exception, council members declined. Most said that regardless of their own thoughts about Iraq, they were elected to govern Aspen, not make foreign policy.

The Aspen Daily News (Dec. 13) said the council had no backbone. “The mayor and her crew seem adept at watching over the city’s day-to-day affairs; it’s those pesky controversial issues that get them unraveled, causing them to turn to the nearest election for guidance. Yes, this council has demonstrated an uncanny ability to waffle on issues of substance.”

That jab alluded to the recent election in which the town let town voters decide the fate of the entrance and also fate of the trolley cars.

The newspaper also pointed out that in past years, Aspen councils have often taken positions regarding matters directly relevant to Aspen – they supported the Central American Peace Plan in 1988, talked about global warming, even adopting a resolution about cable television.

“If the City Council could weigh in on the merits of cable television then, surely the City Council can weigh in on the possibility of a war with Iraq now,” said the paper.

Device to track avalanches

JACKSON HOLE, WYO. – A device invented for Cold War purposes is being adapted to better track avalanches at ski areas and other sites.

At the heart of the device is a microphone-like sensor used by U.S. military and intelligence agencies to detect the detonation of nuclear bombs. A scientist in the Boulder-based National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Agency obtained one of the sensors and began experimenting with it. It detected something, and the scientist at length concluded the cause was avalanches along the Continental Divide, about 50 miles away. Now, spurred by a government grant, a pair of engineers based in Sheridan, Wyo., are adapting the device to commercial use.

The Jackson Hole News & Guide (Dec. 11) compared the device to an octopus living under the snow. The basketball-sized microphone has eight noise filters that stretch from it, resembling 100-yard porous garden hoses. Low-frequency sound waves carry far, and hence the detector can be put in a safe location, away from avalanche paths.

In Wyoming, Mark Weitz and his partner are figuring out how the device can be used to detect the sliding of snow at Glory Bowl, a well-known avalanche path that often blocks the highway that crosses Teton Pass. It could, they believe, be used to trigger an alarm as well as gates across the highway.

Another application could be at ski areas, where avalanche artillery is sometimes fired in bad weather or in the dark to reduce slide hazards. The instrument could tell ski patrollers which slide paths released as a result of the shooting, something they couldn’t detect by sight from the gun station. Yet another application could be to monitor the backcountry, allowing more immediate reports of destabilizing snow conditions.

Fight night opens season

CRESTED BUTTE – Crested Butte Mountain opened Dec. 14, and the Crested Butte News (Dec. 20) says the opening was celebrated like no other opening day at any resort has ever been celebrated. The newspaper’s Than Acuff reported: “This is not Vail. You can tell because these people spent opening night at the resort watching a man in his 20s pummel a man in his 40s. It was a star-studded gala event. Close to 60 fight fans filled the Rafters Conference Center for the ‘Rumble at Rafters.’ Everyone from members of the Friends of the Library to international adventure photographers to world-famous filmmaker to attorneys to EMTs to real estate agents and even the former heavyweight champion were on hand to kick off the ski season with a night at the fights.”

The newspaper apparently had front-row seats to the event. “In round two, Payson’s blows sent random droplets of blood from Selkirk’s face into the crowd, onto the referee, onto my note pad, and who knows where else. It was ugly, but Selkirk stood strong, refusing to buckle.”

Selkirk was the 40-year-old mentioned at the outset.

And now boxing between women is part of such events that, in older days, were called “smokers.” The Crested Butte affair had Kyleena Falzone bloodying Maya Fulton who, in turn, seemed not to mind all that much. She chased Falzone around the ring, landing some blows of her own, although apparently not firm enough to draw blood or win the favor of judges.

The evening took an unpleasant turn when a man and a woman fought each other. That alone seems not to have fazed the crowd. But when the man taunted the woman, he was showered with plastic cups and crushed beer cans. The woman lasted three rounds, and the fight ended in a draw.

A rematch is coming in January.

Primal Quest moves to Tahoe

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, CALIF. – Subaru Primal Quest, a backcountry team competition event created last year in the mold of the better known Eco-Challenge, is moving to the Lake Tahoe backcountry in September. The race pits 100 coed teams in groups of four in a race that includes caving, mountain biking, hiking, rappelling, whitewater and flatwater paddling, night navigation, orienteering, and road biking.

After a storm of controversy, in which some local residents and environmental groups accused Subaru of turning the backcountry into a commodity, the first Primal Quest was held last September on a 300-mile course in the area around Silverton and Telluride. Jenny McCargo was among those who participated, although she had to drop out after getting sick. Just the same, she told the Tahoe Daily Tribune (Dec. 20) that it was “one of the coolest things I’ve ever done.”








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