Ritz-Carlton eyes up Telluride

MOUNTAIN VILLAGE A proposed 96-foot-tall hotel project in Mountain Village, adjacent to the ski slopes of Telluride, has cleared another hurdle. Little in the way of governmental approval now remains in front of developer Robert Levine's proposal, which he says will be managed by Ritz-Carlton or some other four- or five-star hotel operator.

In this second hurdle, 80 percent of voters refused to overturn the Town Council's approval. A similar election in June yielded the same basic conclusion.

Town leaders believe that Mountain Village, which is located on a mesa above the town of Telluride, needs more people and more activity to make the town work as a business proposition. The hotel is supposed to achieve that and also provide room for a post office, an ice-skating rink, and so on. It also gets 100 hotel rooms. But the key to underwriting all this is the sale of real estate, 24 condominiums.

To get this all under essentially one roof means going about 30 feet higher than what the town's building regulations normally would allow. That, in turn, means blocking some views of the San Juan Range from the adjacent time-share lodge, which was the primary source of opposition.

Black bears harass Aspen man

ASPEN For most people in Aspen this summer, the bears have been an inconvenience. For Tom Isaac, it's been a terrifying experience.

A bear or bears have invaded all parts of his house, igniting a burner on his stove but also leaving "business" on a bed, reports The Aspen Times . But these incidents pale in comparison to what happened on the night of Sept. 20.

Isaac was awakened by the sound of cabinets in his kitchen being opened, and drawers and shelves in the refrigerator getting banged around. Then he heard the sound of heavy steps shuffling down the hall toward his bedroom. Isaac, who broke his neck in the early 1980s, leaving him extremely limited use of his hands and no use of his legs and unable to get in and out of bed on his own, was unable to move. But he sensed the bear 6 feet away, on the other side of his closed bedroom door.

All Isaac could do was pray the bear didn't burst through his bedroom door. He eventually could no longer hear the bear and managed to drift asleep.

Later, state wildlife officers discovered a 500-pound bear, called Fat Albert, had been in the area, including Isaac's house. Oddly, the bear didn't leave a scratch on the cabinet or break the refrigerator.

Telluride ski area founder dies

TELLURIDE Joe Zoline, who founded the Telluride ski area in 1972, has died. A child of Russian immigrants, he had grown up in Chicago during the Great Depression and had worked his way through the University of Chicago. From there, he became a top corporate lawyer and then a chief executive. Among his firms was Carte Blanche, one of the first credit cards.

Zoline and his wife, Jebby, had owned a ranch near Aspen, beginning in 1955, where the couple summered and where he got his fundamental understanding of mountain towns. He began the Telluride project in 1968, the ski area opened in 1972, and he sold to Ron Allred and Jim Wells, developers from Avon, at the base of Beaver Creek, in 1978.

The Telluride Watch says Zoline hoped to prevent the sprawl at Telluride that he had seen from Aspen's early success. However, he had foreseen the creation of Mountain Village, the mid-mountain town, and the Prospect Bowl ski area expansion, which opened two years ago.

Campaigns pull on Jackson Hole

JACKSON HOLE, Wyo. As it becomes ever wealthier, Jackson Hole is becoming a major spigot of money for political candidates.

Through July, Teton County residents had given $1.3 million to federal candidates and causes, reports Jonathan Schechter, a columnist for the Jackson Hole News & Guide . Fifty percent went to Republican causes, 40 percent to Democrats and 10 percent to independents and ostensibly independent causes.

By federal law, the names are public record. Several individuals have given between $50,000 and $100,000 this year. Of course many get cranky when Schechter prints their names in his column and have used their residences in other states.

Memorial park comes to Vail

VAIL At long last, Vail has something akin to a cemetery. An 11-acre memorial park has been opened where the names of those departed will be memorialized on flagstones, boulders, rock benches, as well as trees or a rock wall. People may also spread cremated remains in the park, but no burials will be permitted.

Since the mid-1980s, the town had debated where, or if, to build a cemetery. It even had a cemetery planned, and the design had won an award, but residents vetoed the idea. The memorial park will have room for 4,000 names. Vail residents of at last five years will have the cheapest rates, followed by Eagle County residents, and then others.

Vail Resorts takes on skyscraper

AVON A developer who started talking about erecting a 20-story-tall condominium complex in Avon, at the base of Beaver Creek, has been curtly informed that the ski and development company Vail Resorts will do all it can to block the project.

Vail is prepared to spend "unlimited resources to muster whatever opposition is needed to send this terrible proposal to the graveyard it deserves," said Adam Aron, chief executive officer of Vail Resorts.

compiled by Allen Best






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