Denver discusses an Olympic bid

DENVER – Although it’s three years until the U.S. Olympic Committee decides whether to bid for the 2022 Winter Olympics, plenty of chattering is under way in Colorado.

Still hanging over Colorado is its history. Denver had been selected to host the 1976 Olympics, but in 1972 Colorado voters refused to extend subsidies. Evidence had accumulated that Olympic organizers were guilty of both arrogance and incompetence. In addition, Colorado then had been growing rapidly, and many feared the Olympics would fuel further growth.

But that was then. Growth occurred anyway. Denver’s air quality has improved markedly. And members of the International Olympic Committee who took the rejection by Colorado as a personal snub have mostly passed on.

Dick Lamm, a former governor who had spearheaded opposition, told theDenver Post he has been approached by the contemporary Olympic boosters. “They were definitive that there was going to be no ‘trust us’ this time around,” he said.

The newspaper interviewed both leading candidates in this year’s gubernatorial election in Colorado. Neither Scott McInnis nor John Hickenlooper said absolutely yes, but both suggested interest. “Having the Olympics would be a strong inducement to get the federal government to partner with us on solutions for I-70. And that’s something we have to do anyway. That connection with the mountains is one of the things that makes Denver what it is,” said Hickenlooper.

But upgrading traffic-clogged I-70 isn’t a prerequisite, suggested KieAnn Brownlee, president of the Denver Metro Sports Commission, a group created several years ago to investigate a possible bid. She told the newspaper that I-70 is already better than the two-lane 24-mile road that took fans to the alpine skiing events in Turin, Italy.

Salt Lake City received $1 billion in federal aid to improve transportation in Salt Lake City. But Salt Lake’s winter games cost $1 billion, noted Robert Barney, founding director of the International Centre for Olympic Studies at the University of Western Ontario.

The bottom line seems to be that Colorado now has greater interest in an Olympic bid than at any time in the last 40 years – but, at least for the moment, is considering this with eyes wide open.


High-end real estate starts to surge

MOUNTAIN VILLAGE – Yet more evidence arrives of the return of the high-end real estate market. A week after similar news in Wyoming’s Jackson and Idaho’s Ketchum, theTelluride Daily Planet reports an uptick in real estate transfer fees collected in Mountain Village.

The newspaper says that the slopeside municipality collected $1 million in the year’s first two months, more than triple the collections from the same period last year.

“The buyers are definitely back,” said Matthew Hintermeister, a broker at Peaks Real Estate Sotheby’s International Realty.

Down the gondola at Telluride, the town collected $266,000 in real estate transfer taxes in January, more than double the same period last year, and the fourth straight month of increased sales.

The highest sale was for more than $10 million, and most transactions have been in cash. What constitutes the lower-end market in ski towns has not yet returned, as it depends upon credit – and credit remains difficult, especially in nontraditional markets.


Town raising its efficiency standards

CANMORE, Alberta – In 2007, Canmore officials adopted regulations requiring all new buildings have fewer environmental impacts by meeting the requirements for the base levels of either the BuiltGreen or LEED programs.

Now, Canmore planning officials propose elevating requirements – and the new increments sound suspiciously like those first introduced in Aspen in 2000 and other ski town municipalities since then. The proposed standards would require larger houses be built more efficiently.

Alaric Fish, a community planner, said the proposal ispremised

on the fact that larger homes, by their very nature, consume more energy. To offset their size, he said, they should be held to a higher standard than smaller houses.

The town, reports theRocky Mountain Outlook, hopes to encourage builder and developers to consider how to make the homes more energy and water efficient when planning first begins, to save money in the long run. The newspaper suggests there may be controversy in the proposal that buildings that do not meet energy efficiency targets won’t be given occupancy certificates.


Jihadist had ski country connections

EDWARDS – First came that news that a petite, 46-year-old blonde in Pennsylvania who called herself Jihad Jane was accused by U.S. authorities with conspiring to murder a cartoonist who had drawn cartoons that offended Muslims. Then came the report that a woman from Colorado, also blonde-haired, had been questioned in Ireland in connection with the same investigation. She was then released.

The Denver Post found that the woman, Jamie Paulin-Ramirez, had been living in Leadville for the last couple of years and working about 40 miles away in Edwards, located down-valley from Vail and Beaver Creek. She worked as a medical assistant at the Eagle Care Clinic, an office that primarily serves the poor and uninsured.

Dr. Kent Petrie, the clinic’s medical director, described her as an “excellent and dedicated” employee.

Family members said she had been a hellion when young, and last year had begun corresponding on the internet with Muslims. About a year ago, she told family members she had become a Muslim, and in time began wearing a scarf called a hijab, and then a burqa. Among those she communicated with on the Internet were Jihad Jane and the Denver airport shuttle driver who has been accused of planning to bomb New York City.

Then, on Sept. 11 last year, Paulin-Ramirez went to Denver, parked her car and flew to New York City with her 6-year-old son. Family members and her employer said they had no warning she planned to leave.


Astronomer pitches observatory

SNOWMASS VILLAGE – Elected officials in Snowmass Village seem at least mildly interested in a pitch for an observatory.

David Aguilar, a part-time resident of nearby Carbondale, tells the officials that Snowmass would make a splendid site for an observatory – and it could be a tourist attraction.

“What we’re finding is that people’s interest in science, especially astronomy, is going up,” said Aguilar, an astronomer and director of public affairs and science information for the Harvard-Smithsonian Center of Astrophysics.

Aguilar, reports theSnowmass Sun, advised town officials of a possible marketing slogan: “Snowmass, where the real stars come out at night.”


Breckenridge pitches alpine coaster

BRECKENRIDGE – The Breckenridge Ski Resort was among the first ski areas to create an alpine slide. Now it wants to create an alpine coaster.

TheSummit Daily News explains that the coaster would provide a 2,500-foot-long ride during both winter and summer months. Unlike an alpine slide, which has a solid track of concrete, alpine coasters have wheels adhered to a steel track. Ski company officials say the coasters are relatively quiet.

– Allen Best


In this week's issue...

January 25, 2024
Bagging it

State plastic bag ban is in full effect, but enforcement varies

January 26, 2024
Paper chase

The Sneer is back – and no we’re not talking about Billy Idol’s comeback tour.

January 11, 2024
High and dry

New state climate report projects continued warming, declining streamflows