Steamboat heads for high end

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS – Steamboat Springs is getting to be more like Aspen, Vail and Jackson Hole every year. The real estate prices have been screaming upward, with values doubling since 2004. Redevelopment is continuing briskly both in the old downtown and at the base of the ski area. It’s becoming a very interesting, and expensive, place.

Now comes another change that fits in with all the others. United Airlines has agreed to beef up the spring, summer and fall air service from Denver by 33 percent. The new schedule calls for jets, instead of turboprops, and also two or three trips daily, reports theSteamboat Pilot & Today.

“This is really a significant effort toward improving Steamboat’s accessibility,” said Andy Wirth, the executive vice president of sales and marketing for the Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp.

“Make no mistake, this service will benefit everyone in the Yampa Valley, and will help support our diverse economy,” Wirth said.

The newspaper indicated that United Airlines will be given money, but said officials were not disclosing the financial arrangement.

The ski company negotiated the agreement, but it was supported by a taxing district, called the local Marketing District, which levies a 2 percent lodging tax in Steamboat Springs. The money is used to support commercial air service into the Yampa Valley.

On the newspaper’s website, one blogger saw the news as a mixed bag. “More tourists flying into town and enjoying the natural splendor of the Yampa Valley is exactly what we need, “ said the blogger, identified only as “prayforsnow. “Too bad it also has to bring in the wealthy and second-home owning elite, who do little else than to escalate property values, rents and provide a few short-term jobs.”

But another blogger, who flys regularly to the outside world for work, seemed to think that an expanded flight schedule would be swell.

Redevelopment splits Jackson Hole

JACKSON, Wyo. – A major story of 2007 in Jackson – as it has been for several years – was the town conversation about redevelopment. Developers want to build taller and denser projects in the downtown area, and town authorities are agreeable – to a point.

But the general public seems to be less certain, reports theJackson Hole News&Guide.

One such redevelopment plan would raze the Painted Buffalo Inn to make way for a 144-room luxury hotel. The development representative, S.R. Mills, told planning commissioners that the intent is create a four-story hotel, replicating what has been done at Teton Village, at the base of the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort.

“Instead of people staying out at Teton Village and coming into town to shop or recreate, we want to reverse that, and really have town as the home base,” he said.

At issue, at least in part, are the dimensions of the building: 46 feet tall and four stories. But the architect, John Carney, has designed the building so that the top two floors are moved in from the edge, so that the building doesn’t seem so tall from the street.

This is not the first such proposal in Jackson. Something similar has already been approved under new regulations. Councilors, says the newspaper, have at times praised the regulation as a way to encourage urban-style housing development while revitalizing the downtown area. But others say the projects are too large and out of character with their surroundings.

Pushback is also reported. A new group called Save Historic Jackson Hole is asking for a prohibition on four-story buildings. The group contracted for a survey of 400 people, and found that about half said that two-story buildings best represented the desired character of downtown. Many also disagree with the idea of creating more affordable housing by increasing density.

Boy survives 40-minute burial

PARK CITY, Utah – In-bounds avalanches are unusual and ones causing fatalities rare. But the improbable occurred just before Christmas at The Canyons Resort. This is despite the 170 pounds of explosives thrown out onto the slope the day before, and also despite the fact that the slope had been skied heavily prior to the avalanche.

The slide killed a 30-year-old Colorado man when it threw him into a tree. It also buried an 11-year-old boy, who did not regain consciousness until the next day. The boy, Max Zilvitis, was under the snow for about 39 minutes.

The boy’s father, Brian Zilvitis, who was skiing nearby, was buried to his waist in avalanche-compacted snow. Unsure of where his son was in the snow, he used a cell phone to call for help. “I would not want to listen to how I sounded on that 911 call because I’m sure it was disastrous. It was the worst feeling in my life,” Brian toldThe Park Record.

Ski patrollers set up a probe line for a methodical search at the bottom of the slide. When found, Max was administered CPR and flown to the hospital. His body temperature had dropped significantly, so doctors did not allow his body temperature to return to normal for 24 hours, to prevent his brain from swelling.

When the boy awoke, theRecord reported, his first question was, “What happened to me?” He had seen the snow coming and recalls being covered, but then lost consciousness.

For the father, the time was one of torment. “All I could think about were all the hundreds of conversations that we’re in the middle of that we might not get to finish.”

Ski gear explores the green side

SUMMIT COUNTY – Ski and other manufacturers and retailers are exploring how they can make their products and operations more “green,” reports theSummit Daily News.

In a program that in some ways mirrors Sustainable Slopes, the program sponsored by the National Ski Areas Association, the retailers and manufacturers are working on such things as recycling old skis and snowboards. David Ingemie, president of the Snowsports Industries of American, told the newspaper it’s not as easy as recycling newspapers.

The various materials must be separated, and the plastic can be shredded for reuse in materials like flooring. But doing this is not the easiest thing, said Ingemie. “They’re engineered to stay together, not to come apart,” he said.

The group is also pondering whether recycling efforts might, in fact, produce a greater carbon footprint than landfilling the old items.

Ski town searches for identity

CRESTED BUTTE – If your town were a piece of furniture, what kind would it be?

That was the question posed to 100 people in Crested Butte – local residents and business owners, plus visitors – as part of a branding study being conducted by the ski area operator. The general opinion was that Crested Butte is a hardwood-and-iron bench, same as Telluride.

As for Aspen, those surveyed see it as a fancy, futuristic, over-the-top chair. Steamboat is an average sofa.

The Crested Butte News also notes that those polled asked what they wanted Crested Butte to become. The majority answer was a middle-level Casio watch, rugged, with stainless steel, but not too expensive.

Roaring Fork explores transit

ASPEN – Transportation officials in the Roaring Fork Valley continue to plot a future of faster buses and even perhaps light rail from Aspen down-valley through Basalt, Carbondale and Glenwood Springs.

Despite a four-lane highway to Aspen, the traffic jams morning and night are legendary. In response, the Roaring Fork Transit Authority is methodically assembling a bus-rapid transit system that is expected to eventually cost more than $100 million, reportsThe Aspen Times.

Bus rapid transit, as the name implies, stresses speed for buses, making the system as fast or faster than commuting in cars. Already, buses are being given some priority in the flow of traffic at Aspen’s entrance during morning and evening commuting times, shaving off 15 to 20 minutes of time.

The plan is to create buses with fewer stops, nice shelters for people to wait for buses as well as more park-and-ride locations.

The bus agency estimates that rapid transit will eventually handle more than 10 percent of total trips in the valley.

–  Allen Best

In this week's issue...

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January 26, 2024
Paper chase

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January 11, 2024
High and dry

New state climate report projects continued warming, declining streamflows