Mountain News: 

Vail conference centre going to voters again

Page 7 of 11

Among those now trying to create water parks are Steamboat Springs and Glenwood Springs.

Stop me if you ever heard this one

WHITEFISH, Mont. — Across the West, the mantra in new resort areas is this: "We don’t want to be like Aspen and Vail and Jackson Hole." And with this statement of disdain usually comes the professed belief that somehow, it’s possible to take some other road.

So make what you will of a report by Bloomberg News about new hotspots in Montana. The rush is on by the high-tech nouveau rich to these pretty mountain valleys, says Bloomberg.

The poster child is the Whitefish-Kalispell area. Riveting mountains in the background, proximity to Flathead Lake, and oodles of golf courses are just the beginning of the amenities. It also has a ski area, Big Mountain, and is near Glacier National Park.

Another hotspot is the Bitterroot Valley, south of Missoula. There, West Spiker, the spokesman for a members-only resort, says Montanans are "afraid to death that little towns are going to become like Aspen or Vail, where the billionaires chase out the millionaires, and employees have to live 45 to 50 miles away to drive to work." But, he adds, it "won’t ever happen, because people come to Montana for what Montana is. They don’t want to change it."

Maybe not, but their money will.

Warning bell clanged

TELLURIDE, Colo. — Seth Cagin, publisher of The Telluride Watch, continues to clang the warning bell about his community’s vulnerability to avalanches.

Twice in recent years avalanches have exposed the local vulnerable electrical supply. Telluride and its twin, Mountain Village, are connected by two power lines from the outside world. One line is particularly vulnerable to avalanches, and when destroyed two winters ago, forced limited use of ski lifts. The secondary line is aging – perhaps getting too frail to bear the full task of supplying the resort’s growing electrical demands.

Plans have been afoot for several years to upgrade this old power line, but property owners in the scenic mesas to the west of Telluride have objected to above-ground lines. Just who pays for putting the lines underground has been the subject of a protracted dispute that has now gone on for two years.

Given that legal imbroglio, reports Cagin, elected officials say they’re "stuck." He isn’t buying it. Officials in Louisiana, he notes, were "stuck" for years before Hurricane Katrina visited, knowing full well their growing vulnerability.

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