2nd homeowners look for community

GRANBY Can second-home owners find ways to connect with their part-time community that they cannot find "back home." In other words, can they get a greater dose of that hard-to-define "sense of community" that everybody is always talking about?

The Denver Post turns up evidence that this is the case. In fact, Gerry Engle, who has developed high-end Cordillera and is now trying to develop middle-brow Granby Ranch, calls it an "invisible amenity." This desire to be part of a community, he says, is as powerful as the demand for golf courses, ski runs and tennis courts.

Experts, however, seemed evenly divided. Kenneth M. Johnson, a demographer and sociology professor at Loyola University, in Chicago, said the sense of community can emerge in a place where people spent part of the year just as naturally as in "the neighborhood where you stand on the sidelines at soccer games."

But Lewis Feldstein, co-author of Better Together: Restoring the American Community , is not sure of the strength and durability of those bonds. "A sense of community isn't an on-off switch, but a continuum, based on connection and trust and reciprocity. It grows gradually over time, as you observe first-hand how people behave toward you and others you know."

What the article reflects is a growing realization that, as baby boomers retire, many more will want to buy second homes in the mountains. While the second-home phenomenon is certainly nothing new to most ski towns, the pace is expected to pick up dramatically.

Ex-ski racer lands on most-wanted list

BASALT Former ski racer Josef Odermatt has shown up on the most-wanted list in Eagle County after failing to make required court appearances.

Friends in Aspen described Odermatt as a charismatic, personal guy with incredible skiing talent who began getting into trouble in 1995. Keith Ikeda, police chief of Basalt, said Odermatt's record is typical of someone who tried to control a relationship to the point of becoming violent, and let substance abuse get the best of him.

What it all adds up to, says The Aspen Times , is a former ski racing champion whose life swerved radically off course.

Odermatt, 52, had broken his back when he was 16, and when he recovered he joined the pro circuit in the United States. That was in the 1970s. Although he was known to party as hard as he skied, his troubles did not begin until the mid-1990s, when he was accused of driving under the influence and possession of marijuana. A few years later there was an indecent exposure charge, and then a domestic disturbance, and then more and more arrests. There is some speculation he returned to Switzerland.

Water may limit Winter Park building

WINTER PARK Two years ago, during the worst drought in several centuries, there were some doubts whether toilets at the Winter Park ski area would have enough water for flushing.

That proved not to be the case, but Winter Park continues to be in a water pickle. Denver and other Front Range municipalities, which already take 65 percent of the water in the Fraser River Valley, want to take 83 percent. Meanwhile, the second-home boom is just starting to hit. Will there be enough for all?

Probably not, which is why the Winter Park Town Council is now looking at whether it needs to prioritize the development it allows. One of the decisions, Mayor Nick Teverbaugh told the Winter Park Manifest, is to either let everyone who wants to develop come in on a first-come, first-serve basis, or to "set value judgments that are in the best public interests."

While one council member says the town may need to learn to say no, another approach is that developers will want to buy water taps as soon as they get development authorized.

Water available for growth in Vail

EAGLE VALLEY The boom-boom can continue for another 20 years, say water officials in the Vail Valley, a strip of about 25 miles of development located along I-70.

"For the growth we've projected the water rights have already been dedicated or cash-in-lieu has been paid to acquire additional water rights," said Becky Bultemeier, finance manager of the Eagle River Water and Sanitation District.

And what a lot of growth that will be, says a new report broken down by the Vail Daily . The newspaper says that Vail itself, which was considered to be nigh on to build-out, now expects to increase in size by 11 percent during the next six years. Down-valley, in the Avon, Edwards and Cordillera areas, water use could grow by about 40 percent, based on existing zoning and other expectations.

One key assumption is that less water per capita will be used in the future. Water use has been dropping rapidly in the last several years. Water use four summers ago was 223 gallons a day for what is called a single-family equivalent. This year, an uncommonly cool year, it dropped to 207 gallons.

Veggie dinners held in Breckenridge

BRECKENRIDGE Every month about 30 vegetarians gather under the banner of the Summit Vegetarian Club to nosh on dishes like spicy tofu triangles, pumpkin soup and oatmeal power cookies.

The reasons for the meat-free diet vary broadly, from environmental concerns to health and compassion for animals, explains the Summit Daily News . Breckenridge resident Scott Washkowiak said that a vegetarian diet meshes with his active lifestyle. "The more serious I get about my athleticism snowboarding, rock climbing, soccer the more I understand the fuel my body needs to function," he said. "I'm all about getting my energy as close to the sun as possible."

However, eating out for vegetarians is much more difficult, the supper club members agree.

Controversial ski resort clears hurdle

INVERMERE, B.C. A major new mountain resort called Jumbo Glacier proposed in the Purcell Mountains has been given approval by the provincial government in British Columbia. It now must receive approval from local authorities in the Columbia River Valley.

Plans call for 6,300 beds, about a 10th the size of Whistler, but with skiable terrain about one-third the size of Whistler. Vertical would be 5,570 feet (nearly 1,700 meters), surpassing the 5,000 feet (1,530 meters) of Whistler.

The proposed ski area is relatively close to Intrawest's Panorama ski area but the closest large city is Calgary, three to five hours away by car.

George Abbott, B.C.'s minister of sustainable resource development, told the Toronto Globe and Mail that the final decision will rest with the East Kootenay Regional District, which has authority over local zoning. "Those who will benefit most directly and who most directly understand the costs will have the final say here," he told the Calgary Herald .

Jumbo Glacier has been bitterly opposed by a majority of vocal locals. Opposition centers on the displacement of the 30 to 60 grizzly bears found in the area as well as threats to water quality. An existing heli-skiing operation that would be partially displaced has also vowed opposition.

Elementary school may go bilingual

CARBONDALE With 60 percent of elementary school students in Carbondale being native Spanish speakers, Carbondale is Aspen's most concentrated suburb for lower-income service workers. But with so many poorer students at the school, affluent parents have chosen not to send their children to the school. By one estimate, 300 such students have been sent elsewhere.

It's not necessarily a racial or an ethnic prejudice. Parents want to see their child achieve the most. By going to school with lower-income students, their scores tend to be lower. The poorer the student body, the poorer the test scores. And Carbondale Elementary has very low test scores.

So, how to turn the situation around? The Aspen Times reports that a new idea is to make Carbondale Elementary a dual-language school. All Spanish-speaking students would have to learn English, but all English-speaking students would also learn Spanish, with the intent that by fifth grade all students would be fully bilingual.

Alan Gottlieb, an educational consultant, explained that this could be used to make the school a magnet school, as other schools are magnets with their advanced placement programs.

The school district superintendent, Fred Wall, said the dual-language idea is worth looking into, "but we have to make sure such a program would be attractive enough to draw English-speaking parents."

compiled by Allen Best

Christopher Reeve was a Vail regular

VAIL Actor Christopher Reeve, who died recently at the age of 52, was a regular Vail visitor both before and after being paralyzed in 1995 as the result of a horse accident.

The Vail Daily reports Reeve skied at Vail with his family, and his Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation received $1 million as the result of fund-raising activities during the American Ski Classic, an annual ski-racing event held at Vail and Beaver Creek.

In a 2002 interview with the newspaper, Reeve took issue with President George Bush's action that limited the scope of stem cell research.

"It we ban therapeutic cloning, we may lose our medical pre-eminence," he said. Stem cells "can help millions of people. It's the best available technology."

Eagle Valley leans toward democrat

EAGLE COUNTY Eagle County, with Vail and Beaver Creek at its hub, is known as an outpost of Wall Street and a hotbed of rich Republicans. An examination of election records by the Eagle Valley Enterprise suggests a more complex story.

In the 1970s, the county did tilt strongly Republican, with both Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan trouncing Jimmy Carter in the local vote. The margins started narrowing with the election of the elder George Bush in 1988, and then Bill Clinton won in both 1992 and 1996, although third-party candidate Ross Perot who owned two homes at the time in the Vail area came close to coming in first. In the last election, the junior George Bush put the county back into the Republican column, but not by much, with a 47-to-44 margin over Al Gore.

Why is Eagle County trending toward blue after being such a hotbed of red? The Enterprise did not say as much, but an educated guess is that as the Republican Party has veered right in its environmental and social politics, moderate Republicans have been more inclined to cross the party line to vote for Democrats. Plus, the rapidly exploding population tends to be less affiliated.

In local offices, Republicans retain a slight margin, but voters have elected several Democrats, among them a black person and a man with a ponytail, as county commissioners, indicating they're willing to look beyond appearances.

compiled by Allen Best





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