New Ruralism embraced in Granby

GRANBY, Colo. Second-home developers have embraced the buzz-phrase New Ruralism in describing plans for 2,000-plus homes at SolVista, a ski area and golf course project recently annexed into Granby.

The phrase has been around for the better part of a decade, perhaps more, and is even a course in architectural and planning schools. In 1996, in an article about plans for a housing development near Irvine, Calif., a professor of urban planning defined New Ruralism as "an attempt to bring design elements of rural communities into a suburban environment."

In Florida, near Fort Lauderdale, New Ruralism was explained as being the opposite of New Urbanism. Instead of living in the shadows of each other's homes, as occurs with New Urbanism, residents of New Ruralism projects were to live on the edge of open space.

What does New Ruralism mean in the context of SolVista? Gerry Engle, a principal of the Cordillera Group, which is the managing partner in the development of the homes, said to expect neither mansions nor suburban-like grids. Instead, he's tells the Sky-Hi News (Aug. 7) about communities that are "organically grown" around "resources and landmarks, leaving ample open space." Each of these clusters of 20 to 40 homes, which he calls "camps," is to have its own identity, depending upon the context.

"We have a river, so we'll build a river camp," he said. "We have an elk preserve. Around that we'll create an elk camp. Around the ski hill, we'll have the ski camp."

Engle's Cordillera Group has previously built high-end gated communities near Beaver Creek and Steamboat Springs, all in Colorado, as well as in Sonoma County, Calif. In this project, however, they're aiming at the middle- to upper-middle class in Colorado's nearby Front Range or in closer-in cities of the Midwest such as Kansas City.

In a sense, this is no different than what occurred before. Long before Vail, Aspen, or Sun Valley, Grand County, where Granby is located, was a second-home community. Only then, cabins were truly rustic mostly, they didn't have running water.

Bikers, hikers feud over wilderness

LAKE TAHOE, Calif. A proposal to designate 9,500 acres in the Lake Tahoe Basin as wilderness has mountain bikers and wilderness purists feuding. If the proposal by a California senator is approved, mountain bikes will be banned from the tract.

The Tahoe World (Aug. 6) didn't find two sides to the issue. Banning motorized vehicles was OK, the paper said, but why allow big and heavy horses but not small and light bicycles? "How ridiculous," said the paper.

Idaho Wilderness compromise crafted

SUN VALLEY, Idaho U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson is proposing a compromise over a long-contested chunk of ground in Idaho's White Cloud Mountains that makes nobody very happy.

About half the land would be designated as wilderness, and almost half would be left open to mechanized and motorized use. Finally, about 16,000 acres of federal land would be sold to private interests in Custer County at bargain-basement prices, about $625 an acre. The land is mostly in Blaine County, which is dominated by wilderness-friendly Sun Valley and Ketchum, but also is found in Custer County, where residents generally oppose wilderness, explains the Idaho Mountain Express (July 30).

This may be the best thing to come along in a generation, say some environmental advocates. They note that three previous wilderness proposals have died. "If the moment passes, it is passed for a long time," said Geoff Pampush, executive director of The Nature Conservancy-Idaho. "If it passes, both (Custer) County loses and the wilderness advocates lose."

Also at the table is the Blue Ribbon Coalition, which is representing mountain bikers as well as motorized users.

Portable toilets become upscale

JACKSON HOLE, Wyo. A company in Jackson Hole is offering a distinctly upscale alternative to the portable toilets commonly seen on the edge of special events.

Macy's Services offers a 24-foot-long trailer that has oak toilet seats, brass toilet paper holders, and oak-trimmed walls, as well as porcelain sinks, faux marble walls, and even air conditioning. Cost is $2,000 per day. The trailer, reports the Jackson Hole News & Guide (July 30), has been used repeatedly at local functions for the past two summers.

Industry bothers Basalt neighbors

BASALT, Colo. The clinking, clanking, clanging and banging at a manufacturing plant in Basalt is sure evidence that the construction economy in the Colorado high country has turned around. But for residents of a nearby subdivision, the second shift of activity is becoming intolerable, reports The Aspen Times (July 31).

The firm fabricates metal beams and components used in construction projects, and business this summer warranted the addition of a second shift of production, lasting until 1 a.m. Residents of the nearby 84-home subdivision knew they bordered a light industrial zone when they purchased homes, but were surprised by the swing shift that produced, in the words of one, "incessant Chinese torturous beep, beep, beep warning sound of forklifts backing up."

While the manufacturer insists he's within the law, residents insist something must be done because they paid big money for their properties. That leaves it up to the town government to craft a peaceful solution. Town manager Tom Baker said this problem doesn't mean the hodgepodge of zoning in Basalt is a mistake, but that creative solutions are needed to accommodate everyone.

Wildfires rage in Canadian forests

BANFF, Alberta Forest fires were raging across Alberta and British Columbia as August arrived.

In Alberta, the Kootnay Park Lodge was sandwiched between towering walls of flames, but fire crews using helicopters were able to draw the fire away from the wooden building. The good news for the 80-year-old lodge, reports the Rocky Mountain Outlook (Aug. 6), is that fires during the last three years have virtually surrounded the lodge, meaning there's unlikely to be any cause for worry for a century.

Across the Continental Divide, said the Revelstoke Times Review (Aug. 6), British Columbia baked in continuing 30-degreeplus (86 degree Fahrenheit) heat as the sun beat down from a cloudless sky, pushing the fire hazard in the forests into the extreme range and holding it there."

To the west, in Whistler, Pique newsmagazine (Aug. 8) reported the "worst forest-fire crisis in provincial history." At nearby Sun Resorts, cigarettes were banned, even on golf courses, except in special designated spots. Firefighters were battling 350 blazes across the province.

Lighting strikes Teton summit push

JACKSON HOLE, Wyo. A lightning strike near the summit of the Grand Teton left one woman dead and various others among the party of 13 climbers badly injured, one of them critically.

The rescue that was subsequently executed was described by a 30-year climbing ranger at Grand Teton National Park, Tim Kimbrough, as possibly "the most spectacular rescue in the history of American mountaineering in terms of numbers of people being extricated and the way the helicopters worked and how fast the boys did it."

The climbers had started relatively late, reports the Jackson Hole News & Guide (July 30), and at mid-afternoon were still short of the summit when a storm arrived. The blast left one climber severely injured, clothing melted to his wrist as he dangled upside down in his harness. Barely conscious, he only moaned when his name was called during the 3.5 to 4-hour ordeal.

Alerted by a cell phone call from the climbers, park authorities dispatched two helicopters, which set down climbing rangers on the peak. Part of the rescue was a retrieval of the injured man into a litter, which was then dangled from a helicopter that lowered him 6,000 feet to the base of the mountain, a climbing ranger clipped into the dangling rope at his side. That daring operation may have saved his fast-ebbing life.

Eagle spotlight goes into overtime

EAGLE, Colo. Hundreds of television reporters and technicians as well as scores of print reporters were there, some from as far away as London and Tokyo. There were also tourists and locals who showing up at the Eagle County Justice Center, some with " painted on their foreheads.

All of this for a 10-second glimpse of Kobe Bryant at his arraignment on charges of raping a 19-year-old Eagle woman that, and to see and to be seen. For former classmates of the woman, offers have been thick for fleeting fame and notoriety. Several have been flown to New York to appear on national television, and there is a great deal of talk about the money to be had.

compiled by Allen Best





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