Organic groceries dodge ski towns

SILVERTHORNE – Among the resort valleys of the West, only Park City has a major grocery store specializing in organic food, Whole Foods. But that location is less than a half-hour drive along an interstate highway from the warehouses of Salt Lake City.

Vail, Aspen, Summit County – all these Colorado resort valleys would seem to be a perfect market for major health-food stores like Whole Foods or Sunflower Farmers Market, but so far nothing has appeared. Why not?

A story in theSummit Daily News suggests why: lack of efficient distribution channels. So says Denver-based developer Brad Kornfield, who has worked for the last several years trying to develop a grocery store-anchored shopping center in Silverthorne, 68 miles west of Denver along I-70.

For Silverthorne, the economics of grocery stores is no academic matter. The town was on a gravy train of sales tax revenues for many years. That changed in 1998, when City Market, a subsidiary of Kroger, decamped to the adjacent town, Dillon, taking with it $800,000 to $1 million in tax revenues that had helped finance a lavish community recreation center and other municipal niceties. That was 20 to 25 percent of the town’s total sales tax collections.

The town in 2003 gained a Target and hoped Target would expand its food offerings. But Silverthorne Town Manager Kevin Batchelder reports that Target does not remodel or expand until a store has been open for seven years,

While the market demographics are good in Summit County, rising land and construction costs are squeezing grocery stores, which are not expanding as they were several years ago. Batchhelder says that if the town doesn’t snag a grocery store this year, it will keep trying.


Fraser no longer dog heaven

FRASER – It may be the 21st century, but Fraser still feels like a town of the 1960s or 1970s. Some streets in this town, located 5 miles from the Winter Park ski area, remain unpaved, and dogs still have a reputation for roaming free.

But that reputation is now being examined in the wake of the shooting of a 50-pound boxer named Angel. Two Jehovah’s Witnesses had been walking door-to-door when the dog, baring its teeth, charged them.

Responding to their call for help, the police chief found something similar: a growling and barking dog, its ears laid back, running hard at him. He shot it with his handgun just before it reached him, saying he was “scared.”

The Winter Park Manifest reported some outrage. Neighbors described the 12-year-old dog, which was pregnant, as “a real sweetheart.” One long-time local said, “This is Fraser. This is where dogs run all the time.”

But a different perspective was offered at a community meeting. One resident reported having been bitten three times by dogs. Another resident complained about the amount of dog doo in local playgrounds. And at least one parent, who has two small children, said the lovable Angel described by its owners as “our little baby girl” had, in fact, chased him.

While the Town Board announced a “paradigm shift,” it took no formal action. The news was reported under the headline: “No longer a dog heaven?”


Town courts younger generations

BRECKENRIDGE – All the ski towns and resort valleys of the West are fretting about the arrival of retiring Baby Boomers but without the muscles of the Gen X and Gen Y generations to keep things going.

In Breckenridge, this worry is reflected in goals being formulated by the Town Council for the next year: child care and affordable housing.

“I think day care and housing will trump things like recreation for the time being,” said Eric Mamula, a council member. “We want to make sure that the people who make the community run can stay here.”

The Summit Daily News reports that the more blunt explanation came from John Warner, a council member. “I don’t believe our youth feels like they’re welcomed back to our community,” he said. “It’s too expensive. There’s no housing.” Those factors, he added, lead to alienation and even to behavioral and emotional problems.

Another goal comes from another council member, Rob Milisore, who wants a revision of building codes to “really give

builders a reason to go green.” Another council member, Dave Rossi, adds environmental goals: discouraging light pollution and acquiring more dedicated open space. And Mayor Ernie Blake sees need for a big-picture transportation plan that makes existing buses more efficient.


Couple circumnavigates Jackson Hole

JACKSON HOLE, Wyo. – A couple from Jackson Hole used April to circumnavigate the valley, a 170-mile trip that took them across high mountains, areas of old forest fires, and in the fresh tracks of grizzly bears.

Reed Finlay, a 37-year-old lift supervisor at the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, and his wife, Rebecca Huntington, until recently a reporter at theJackson Hole News & Guide, skied most of the trip.

“The whole idea was to circle Jackson Hole and link up all these different parts of our valley,” said Finlay, who conceived of the idea 10 years ago. He said the goal was not to bag summits or, other than to complete the circle, to reach some arbitrary point or another. Instead, the idea was to journey through the diversity of the region.

In all, the trip took 23 days. While some might think that such sustained proximity would put strains on a marriage, Huntington said it did not. “There was no more snipping than we would have in a normal day at home,” she said. “Only one of us was allowed to have a meltdown at any given time, which was mostly me.”


Greenhouses encouraged in Aspen

BASALT – During the last several years, many in the environmental movement have been arguing the case for grow-your-own food and, somewhat similarly, the need for cities and towns to establish preserves nearby that will remain in agriculture production.

A variation on this theme is a workshop held in the Roaring Fork Valley recently for those wanting to know about how to build or maintain a greenhouse. Leading the workshop, reportsThe Aspen Times, was Jerome Osentowski, who has established what the newspaper describes as an “Eden of fruit trees, herbs, vegetables and exotic plants” adjacent to his home on Basalt Mountain.

But Osentowski says homeowners need not become as elaborate in their green-thumb ambitions as he is. Just a simple affair will do. “What we need to be doing is attaching greenhouses on the south sides of houses as a matter of course,” he said. He built his 22-by-60-foot greenhouse for $7,000, although he was able to create another, smaller greenhouse with materials retrieved from the local landfill.


Whistler plans Paralympics arena

WHISTLER, B.C. – Guided by Eldon Beck, the well-known landscape designer who has been called on in many ski towns of the West for advice, Whistler is forging ahead with a major new complex in anticipation of the 2010 Winter Olympics.

The town has been in an economic funk, so spare charge has been hard to come by. This will cost up to $40 million Canadian, half of that paid for by the provincial government. The concept at hand is for an enclosed arena to be used for the Paralympics ice games, with seating for 2,750, but able to host up to 5,000 for such things as music events.

The arena is to be surrounded by five buildings, with those additional buildings having altogether 73,000 square feet.

Whistler’sPique reports that Beck met with the council there and said he believes “the life” of the space is more important than the architecture.

The municipality is now at work trying to put together a business plan for the project. Goals are to make it “affordable, economical and sustainable.” Those words, said Beck, are vital.


Eagle County looks into biodiesel

EAGLE VALLEY – Rising prices of fossil fuels and mounting concerns about air pollution are driving more government agencies to experiment with biological alternatives. Among the latest is Eagle County.

The Vail Daily reports that sheriff’s deputies already have eight Chevrolet Tahoe SUVs that run on primarily ethanol, although there is some debate whether ethanol is a net gain for the environment.

– compiled by Allen Best

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