Eagle rejects big box development

EAGLE – Voters in Eagle last week again shook their collective finger at big-box stores and franchise developments.  What happens next in this town 30 miles west of Vail is anybody’s guess.

By a 53 to 47 percent margin, the town’s citizenry rejected a massive real estate development that would have included 581 homes and 552,000 square feet of commercial space. The commercial complex would have been anchored by a Target store.

Eagle, population 6,400, has grown rapidly in the last decade. Out along the interstate, it’s fast-food city. Across the river and beyond the original town are new subdivisions, a mix of New Urbanist clusters and golf course-anchored mini-mansions.

What the town doesn’t have is revenue commensurate with its population growth. Much of the traffic through the town goes to the Costco in a neighboring town. In Eagle, as in most Colorado towns, taxes on retail sales pays for such things as parks, bike paths and open space.

Ironically, Eagle voters in 2005 rejected a project that would have accommodated the Costco.

While some people insist they want nothing to change, even the most ardent foes concede something will eventually be developed. Interviews in theVail Daily and elsewhere suggest that a pared-down project might succeed.

But the fundamental issue for Eagle is how it can make money without being part of corporate America. A few places have succeeded, but they’re almost entirely at the base of ski mountains. And, if you examine who owns what, there’s plenty of corporate America in places like Aspen, Vail and Telluride.


Home sale in Breck sets high mark

BRECKENRIDGE – A 6,565-square-foot house has sold in a subdivision adjacent to the Breckenridge Ski Area for $8.25 million. That far and away is the most money ever paid for a house in Summit County, breaking the previous record of $5.6 million.

The home, reports theSummit Daily News, has seven bedrooms, nine bathrooms, and four fireplaces – plus three laundry rooms. The home also has a 2,000 square-foot heated patio.

Realty agents tell the newspaper that sales have picked up in recent months – and that transactions in the market segment for $2 million-plus homes actually accelerated from 2008. Dan Corwin, spokesman for Breckenridge Associates Real Estate, said a few homes sold for 65 to 70 percent of their original asking price. Many sold for 88 to 90 percent. A few, he said, got the asking price – and possibly even more.

In neighboring Eagle County, prices have dropped – but some neighborhoods still remain extremely expensive. Such is the case at Bachelor Gulch, a part of Beaver Creek, where the average sales price in November was $6.35 million.


Professor documents historic labor wars

TELLURIDE – The Colorado high country has at least two spots marked by modern warfare. Between Vail and Copper Mountain is a ridge called Machine Gun Hill, a reflection of the 10th Mountain Division soldiers trained nearby at Camp Hale from 1942-44.

But machine guns were also used early in the 20th century in the labor wars that afflicted Telluride and many other mining towns. A nest for militia with machine guns was erected at 13,365 feet in elevation at a site overlooking Imogene Pass, to control crossings.

Striking miners had escorted replacement workers across the pass and away from Telluride. Then, after martial law had been declared and the Colorado National Guard sent in to aid mine owners, the striking miners were ordered out of the area.

Andrew Guilliford, a professor of Southwest Studies and History at Fort Lewis College, explains that the fort – called Peabody to honor the governor, who was friendly to the mine owners – was built between November 1903 - February 1904.

Writing in The Telluride Watch, Guilliford explains that workers were striking for better conditions.

“As more miners and mill workers died from cave-ins, explosions from dangerous gases, and silicosis in their lungs, they demanded better working conditions and something we take for granted: the eight-hour work day,” he says.

The fort was small, made of wood, and today about 60 percent of it remains, the names of soldiers stationed there in 1904 carved into the wood.

Hostilities lingered even after the labor war ended. Several years later, there were massive avalanches in the San Juan Mountains, killing scores of miners. The then-head of the National Guard declared that the avalanches were divine retribution.


City subsidizes ‘Fall in Love in Aspen’

ASPEN – There has been much squawking about a so-called reality television show that purports to show what Aspen is really like. Ain’t even close, say Aspen locals.

Yet, the city sort of plays into the same myth. Consider where the Aspen City Council has decided to spend special seed money for special events. A new event, called “Fall in Love in Aspen,” is to get $10,000. The event, explainsThe Aspen Times, will target singles in their 20s, 30s and 40s during a three-day event in October with the goal of meeting mates.

Then there’s Aspen Fashion Week, an existing event, that will include slopeside runway events, fashion shows and parties.

And there will be Outside in Aspen, scheduled for mid-June, which intends to draw weekend warriors to compete in rafting, rock-climbing and other outdoor events. The event sounds like it is intended to compete with Vail’s much bigger Teva Mountain Games — itself partly a response to Aspen’s X Games.

Behind the green curtain, the reality of Aspen is a lot of 8 to 5, just like every place else, and a lot of questions about next month’s mortgage payment.


Idaho Uphillers and downhillers at odds

KETCHUM, Idaho – Those going uphill and downhill on the ski runs of Sun Valley’s Bald Mountain have been flinging words back and forth – in the columns of the local newspaper.

“Hiking during operating hours is a dangerous activity, even on the sides of the runs,” wrote one person in the classifieds section of theIdaho Mountain Express. “If you really want a thrill, go walk in the middle of the highway.”

And then this, from an uphill hiker: “If a person hiking up Baldy gets in your way, then the snow guns and ski lift towers and even pine trees must really drive you nuts … .”

The words parallel those in Colorado and elsewhere, where people in the late 1990s increasingly began hiking up the ski runs. In some cases, the Forest Service has stepped in to specify rules for where and when hikers are allowed.

Hikers are permitted at Sun Valley, although Forest Service winter sports specialist Joe Miczulski said the unspoken agreement limits uphillers to trekking in mornings and on the sides of runs. But now, uphillers have moved to the middle of the day and middle of runs.

“There seems to be a sense of entitlement – I can go anywhere I want on public land,” he told theExpress.


Mayor defends real estate economy

TELLURIDE – It’s a tradition in Telluride for the mayor to deliver a state-of-the-town address in January. This year, Mayor Stu Fraser used the occasion to make a spirited defense of the real estate and second-home segments of the economy.

“Without all of us, our school system would not be as vital, our affordable housing not as important, our economy not as varied, our nonprofits not as diverse and our ski area not as dynamic,” Fraser said.

“Each one of us plays into the future of our community. Some who want town to be the same as in the ‘70s are frustrated because the town has grown up around them and in some cases in spite of them.

“Those who arrived later see Telluride as the answer to their dreams and aspirations, they are no different than those who arrived earlier. Telluride is an exceptional community. We are all fortunate to have shared time here … .”

Fraser also said that Telluride has an opportunity to become a “new and unique destination in the otherwise cookie-cutter world of mountain resorts.”

– Allen Best


In this week's issue...

July 21, 2022
Wildlife success or deal with the devil?

Land swap approved in Southwest Colorado, but not without detractors

July 21, 2022
Tapping out

The latest strategy to save the San Luis Valley's shrinking aquifer: paying farmers not to farm

July 14, 2022
Hey, good environmental news

Despite SCOTUS ruling, San Juan Generating Station plans to shut down