Access to Hemingway home debated

KETCHUM, Idaho A proposal to allow public access into the Ketchum home where the author Ernest Hemingway committed suicide is drawing opposition.

Hemingway's fourth and last wife, Mary, willed the house to the Nature Conservancy with the understanding that it not be open to the public, explains USA Today . But Hemingway's granddaughter, Mariel, an actress, thinks that times have changed.

"It doesn't have the same validity that it used to, worrying about whether he committed suicide," she says. "It's a fact of life that he did. It's part of the tremendous color of his existence."

Hemingway began spending time at nearby Sun Valley in the 1930s when completing For Whom the Bell Tolls . He bought the house in 1959, and two years later, when he was 61, shot himself with a shot gun.

Among those opposing the opening of the house to the public are neighbors. The house is not currently identified. Doing so, say some, will cause a public distraction. "It's a land-use issue, not a Hemingway issue," says one neighbor.

But a Hemingway scholar from South Carolina told the newspaper that the neighborhoods have it backwards. "It's too bad about these people who don't want the peasants parking in their streets," said Matthew Bruccoli. "But the claims of literature override anything else."

Other Hemingway homes, in Cuba and the Florida Keys, are already open to the public.

Musician Seal sued in Whistler

WHISTLER, B.C. The musician known as Seal is in the news in Whistler after being sued for failing to make payments on a 5,000-square-foot house being built for him there. He became famous after his song, "Kiss from a Rose," became a No. 1 hit in North America.

Seal had paid a deposit on the $12.5 million ($9.1 million US) home, but a development company claims he failed to make payments as agreed.

Pique newsmagazine notes that Seal has become something of a publicist for the resort, extolling the region's beauty on the Rosie O'Donnell and Jay Leno television programs.

Terrain parks modified for beginners

SUMMIT COUNTY, Colo. Crews will be busy at three of the four ski resorts in Summit County to expand and modify the terrain parks.

The theme seems to be to create better increments for beginners and intermediates, instead of providing more features geared strictly for expert riders, explains the Summit Daily News .

At Copper Mountain, for example, another 25 rails and boxes are to be added to the existing 45. "We're definitely going to be building more rails and boxes that cater to all ability levels," said Doug Hagen, the terrain park supervisor.

Real estate rebounds after cold spell

CRESTED BUTTE, Colo. Real estate agents are getting busy in many resort towns, but the change seems to be much greater in Crested Butte since the sale of the ski area. From a report issued by the Gunnison-Crested Butte Tourism Association, the scenes are somewhat reminiscent of an old mining town after new gold strikes.

Real-estate agent Joel Vosburg reports that more property has exchanged hands in the last two months than in the previous 18 months. Prices have gone up 10, 20, even 30 percent in the last month or two, according to a press release. Meanwhile, Jim Gebhart's real estate office has 60 properties under contract where last year he had probably 12.

Agent Cathy Benson reports working 12 hours a day, seven days a week. "We've had growth spurts before, but not this gross volume of sales ever in my 30-plus years in real estate here," she said.

When a $229,000 Plaza condo deal fell through in March, the owner put the unit back on the market the following week for $259,000 and immediately received three full-price offers.

Little in the way of development had happened at Crested Butte for several years, at least partially because of the declining fortunes of the ski area. There is broad optimism that the new owners, Vermont-based Tim and Diane Mueller, have both the resources to invest in the infrastructure and the personalities to get along with the local, environmentally minded community.

Jackson Hole debates new density

JACKSON HOLE, Wyo. The density debate continues in Jackson Hole.

First there was the plan to increase density potential in downtown Jackson, the valley's only town. By increasing downtown density, said the City Council, sprawl into the countryside would be reduced.

But town residents vetoed that plan. The up-zoning that would allow the density increase was not accompanied by a guarantee of reduced building potential in the unincorporated areas outside Jackson, said opponents. They won.

Now, a development proposal at the ski resort base, called Teton Village, has triggered a similar argument. The proposal calls for a substantial increase in building density. The proposal from the Rezor family, ranchers turned developers, calls for 478 housing units, plus a golf course, a big-box-store amount of commercial space, plus 812 parking spaces.

The strong and influential Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance has released a critique that says the proposed density is not accompanied by guarantees of reduced sprawl while protecting open space, ranch lands and wildlife.

The Rezors, according to the Jackson Hole News & Guide , respond that the increased density is to accommodate more affordable housing. Two-thirds would be free-market, but nearly a third would be labeled as either affordable or attainable.

Tahoe grapples with transportation

LAKE TAHOE, Calif./Nev. Like everywhere else, roads and streets around Lake Tahoe are congested with cars, and it's getting worse.

In response, some see a combination of rail transportation and boats across the lake being the answer. This vision of the future, as explained in the Tahoe Daily Tribune , is a remembrance of the past. Among these visionaries is Gunar Henrieolle, who has 18 rail cars that he purchased from the City of San Francisco.

Meanwhile, the new leader of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, John Singlaub, is hoping to have a unified vision in place by 2007. "If we have any hope of having an Olympics near the lake, we'd have to deal with the gridlock. Right now we can't even handle Presidents' Day weekend."

Others, such as Chris Swan, who owns a San Francisco-based company called Suntrain, foresees trains powered by a combination of solar energy and fuel cells. The salvation he sees is development of hydrogen fuel cells, which he predicts will be in place by 2006.

Beaver Creek eyes commuter gondola

BEAVER CREEK, Colo. Ever since Telluride plunged ahead in the mid-1990s with a gondola connecting the old and new towns, ski communities in Colorado have been toying with the idea of gondolas as key people movers.

The story from Avon and Beaver Creek suggests a more difficult calculus. From the opening of the resort in 1981, diesel buses have been the primary means of transportation of connecting Avon, on the valley floor, with Beaver Creek, 2 miles up the tributary valley. But the buses were never intended as the ultimate solution. With the rapid growth at Beaver Creek, the noisy and smelly buses are struggling to meet demand.

At first, Vail Resorts investigated a tracked funicular. It was vetoed as too expensive. Then, last year, a gondola estimated to cost $30 million to $40 million was announced. It was to have begun at Vail Resorts property in Avon at an 18-acre strip called The Confluence, continue to the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Bachelor Gulch and then on to the western ridge at Beaver Creek.

Avon leaders enthusiastically embraced the idea that would have, in effect, made the town slope-side real estate, but balked at paying $6 million, as Vail Resorts wanted. As well, plans for commercial and residential real estate development at the Confluence did not come together for reasons that have not been publicly disclosed.

So, instead, Vail Resorts is spending $13 million this year to install two high-speed lifts at Beaver Creek that are geared primarily to the more advanced local and Colorado skiers who are a large part of the mix at Beaver Creek. Also planned is a new 500-space parking lot. As well, there will be a lift ticket office, lockers, a rental shop, and a Starbucks coffee shop.

However, a gondola from Avon to the lift system bridging both the Eagle River and Highway 6 remains a possibility, officials say.

compiled by Allen Best






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