Mountain News 

Tempers flare at immigration forum

By Allen Best

PARK CITY, Utah – Tempers flared at a forum held in Park City about immigration, and the arguments were familiar ones.

Park City “would shrivel up and blow away” if not for the labor provided by immigrants, said one panelist, Scott Palmer. Local youth were willing to work at the golf course, but not on the cement crew, he added. Another panelist offered that if “you take the illegal labor out of the workforce, be prepared to pay more.”

The local sheriff, Dave Edmunds, said that the disagreement often puts local law enforcement agencies in a precarious position, being asked to turn a blind eye to the violations of law.

The Park Record says other complained about the costs of health care, schooling and public works, plus the familiar complaint that immigrants aren’t learning English, the language of the majority.

 

‘Affordable’ is now at $700,000

BASALT, Colo. – A housing project in Basalt, 18 miles down-valley from Aspen, that aimed initially for affordability is turning into something else. The original plan was to slice the land into narrow lots, such as were created in the early mining towns or in the row houses of larger cities. Even so, the homes were to be fairly large, 2,200 square feet, although that is only average by the standards of today’s ballooning home sizes. Still, at $200 per square foot for construction, reports The Aspen Times, the homes are now projected to cost $700,000.

 

Wildfire potential could be disclosed

SUMMIT COUNTY, Colo. – Real estate agents in Summit County are tinkering with a potential disclaimer to be included in sale of property. That disclaimer would advise potential buyers of the risk of wildfires.

There, as in the adjoining Vail and Winter Park areas, forests are in the 10 th year of a bark beetle epidemic that foresters say could ultimately destroy 90 per cent of lodgepole pine trees. The fear is that the dead trees will potentially become part of a massive, catastrophic fire.

One idea reported by Ken Deshaies, a representative of the Summit Association of Realtors, is to inform prospective buyers about the changing nature of local forests and also the need to create defensible space around their structures. The idea is being reviewed by lawyers, but could become part of the standard residential property disclosure form, reports the Summit Daily News.

 

Three down, four to go

INVERMERE, B.C. – Dan Griffith has now topped three summits in his bid to climb the highest peaks on each of the seven continents. Earlier this year, the 55-year-old Griffith became the oldest Canadian to summit Everest.

In addition to Everest, reports the Invermere Echo, Griffith this year has climbed North America’s McKinley (a.k.a. Denali) and Europe’s Elbrus. During the next month he hopes to complete Cartensz Pyramid, the highest point in Australia and Indonesia, and then Africa’s Kilimanjaro. That leaves him South America’s Aconcagua during October and Antarctica’s Vinson in November.

 

Jack Frost a late-comer

EAGLE, Colo. – With virtually no comment, and certainly no fanfare, an extraordinary event occurred on Sept. 16 in Eagle, located halfway between Vail and Glenwood Springs: a freeze occurred. The first deep frost usually occurs around Labor Day.

 

No wave of New Yorkers

VAIL, Colo. – Anecdotally, it would seem that people who left New York City after the terrorist attack of Sept. 11 have flooded Vail. The new chief executive officer of Vail Resorts, Rob Katz, fled New York after 9/11, as did Peter Knobel, one of the new developers in Vail. The Rotary Club in Vail also had a speaker recently, a local resident who had survived the attacks in New York.

But while the ex-New Yorkers may be prominent, it does not constitute a flood, reports Jonathan Schecter, who boils numbers weekly for the Jackson Hole News&Guide. Schechter studied IRS data that shows the number of taxpayers in each county in the United States, and whether they have moved in the previous year and, if in larger numbers, from where.

Studying these data, looking for ex-New Yorkers in the area from Colorado to Idaho, Schecter found only 100 more New Yorkers moving to the Rocky Mountains in the three years after the terrorist attacks as compared to the three years before. Even then, the New Yorkers have been landing mostly in the cities, not in Vail, Jackson Hole, or other resort areas.

“Men of the West, put down your pitchforks, extinguish your torches and let your womenfolk and children run free once again,” he writes.

 

Wildlife-resistant cans required

VAIL, Colo. – After a summer of too-close encounters with bears, Vail is adopting a compromise measure that requires wildlife-resistant cans.

The town already requires that trash be left out only on day of pickup, and this summer began dishing monetary fines, instead of warnings. Wildlife advocates had wanted an even more aggressive action, a requirement that all homes have metal wildlife-proof trash containers.

Instead, the town council has given preliminary approval to a law that mandates wildlife-resistant cans. One trash company will charge $150 for those wildlife-resistant cans, but cost was not really the issue. Trash companies said the cans were too heavy for their workers and trucks, not to mention the backs of homeowners. However, if the wildlife-resistant cans at homes do not curb bear problems, then homeowners will be required to invest in the wildlife-proof cans.

Construction sites do not get off so easy. Wildlife-proof containers will be required there. Condominium complexes will be required to have wildlife-proof bins or, in the case of Dumpster and other large trash containers, wildlife-resistant enclosures.

The cost of this is not inconsequential. Town officials say they will spend $200,000 to install wildlife-proof containers at parks, trailheads, and bus stops, and the cost of collecting that public trash is expected to rise $12,000 annually.

 

Steamboat mulls art museum

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. – City officials and boosters of the fine arts are mulling whether they can make a go of an art museum in downtown Steamboat Springs.

Helen Rehder, who had had owned a prominent and historic building since 1937 with her husband, Harry, bequeathed it to the city with the request that it be “operated as a museum for the preservation and commemoration of the lifestyle of settlers in Routt County.”

As Helen Rehder was herself an artist of some talent, art boosters believe that a museum displaying fine art would be in keeping with her wishes — and could help Steamboat build a reputation as a destination for art enthusiasts.

City officials tell the Steamboat Pilot & Today that it is important the century-old building pay for itself, either with income from the museum or from another business located in the building.

 

Hunters unhappy about photo

GRANBY, Colo. – Bow hunters are angry with Patrick Brower, who edits the Sky-Hi News. Several weeks ago Brower came across a bull elk with an arrow in its side. Brower took a photo of the bull and printed it.

“What were you thinking?” asks Paul Navarre, a bow hunter in a letter published in the newspaper. Navarre argues that hunting, regardless of the weapon, “should be a very private relationship” between hunter and prey. Hunting and killing “is not a spectator sport and does not need to be advertised to the general public as your picture of the wounded bull elk did,” he added.

Another archer, Ryson Arnold, also labeled the photo as a low blow. Not only is hunting expensive, but it is very difficult – and rarely inhumane, as he contended the published photo suggested.

 

Fractional ownership coming

KETCHUM, Idaho – New plans are afoot for a hotel in Ketchum. The city council three years ago approved plans for an 80-room hotel, but the developer said investors were interested in a hotel only if the rooms could be sold as fractional units. While existing regulations still do not allow fractional units as such, revisions are being studied. Anticipating those revisions, the hotel plans call for 18 or 19 residential units. The hotel is proposed to be 58 feet, with a 10-foot setback, reports the Idaho Mountain Express. That is 10 feet taller than the previous proposal, but also far taller than what is now found at the location.

 

Counties considering 5-person commissions

SUMMIT COUNTY, Utah –Two resort counties in the West are thinking about emulating the experience of Pitkin County, where Aspen is located, by adopting a five-member board of commissioners.

The argument in Colorado’s Eagle County, where Vail is located, is that five commissioners will allow a broader representation. The county already has an administrator, to execute the policies set by the commissioners.

In Utah’s Summit County, where Park City is found, county commissioners both set policy and execute it, looking after roads, and other functions directly themselves. But the proposal would delegate that administration to a designated county manager.

Proponents of this change brought in Hilary Smith, the Pitkin County manager. She makes $130,000 annually, reports the Park Record. Smith said that by coordinating with the elected officials — the sheriff, clerk and so forth — she can save the county money and prevent officials from isolating themselves.

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