Mountain News: 

Actor Bruce Willis offers land for airport

Compiled by Allen best

HAILEY, Idaho — The actor Bruce Willis is offering to donate land for a new airport to service the Ketchum-Sun Valley area, but perhaps not incidentally the airport would also serve to boost business at a small ski area called Soldier Mountain that he operates.

The 1,000 acres Willis apparently is offering is located near the small town of Fairfield, a 45-minute or less drive to Ketchum. The existing airport, located in Hailey, is much closer to the ski slopes of Mt. Baldy, but it cannot be expanded without taking out residential acres, and a newer and heavier generation of private airplanes cannot use it. As such, the Federal Aviation Administration has basically ordered the community to find a new airport site.

After studying many sites, the task force has reduced the list to five, including one generally in the area where Willis is offering his land. The Idaho Mountain Express reports that Willis was at the meeting, wearing a grey knit ski cap pulled tightly down on his head. Rising from a seat in the last row in the room, he introduced himself: "I’m Bruce Willis, part-time actor and father of three children."

The mayor of the nearby town, David Hanks, said local residents were in a "mixed mood" about the possibility of a large airport next door. The town does not seem remotely prepared for an economic boomlet that may be coming.

Several people interviewed by the Idaho Mountain Express say that Willis seems committed to developing the Soldier Mountain ski operation, whose biggest year occurred 30 years ago. Since Willis got the ski area permit six years ago, the largest use was last year, with 10,932 visits. However, a season pass costs only $350 compared to $1,850 at Sun Valley.

Can railroads deliver?

GRANBY, Colo. — By train, it’s about two hours from Denver to Granby and Winter Park, one of Colorado’s newest boom areas for vacation homes. And when Interstate 70 gets congested, it can take even longer to drive the highway.

Now there’s a new effort afoot by land developers in Granby, whose major market is people in metropolitan Denver, to promote use of the train. Jerry Jones, a former ski industry executive who worked variously at Sun Valley, Keystone, and Snowmass, is now developing vacation homes at Granby. Improved use of the railroad is an obvious but underutilized asset, he says. Jones believes the day is rapidly approaching when the critical mass will exist to warrant special trains from Denver, just as many resort areas now subsidize plane flights from distant cities.


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