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Mountain News: Good economic news sparse in Aspen



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A majority of passengers who use the airport go to Vail or Beaver Creek, located about 30 miles away, although a substantial number also go to Aspen, about 65 miles away. Vail Resorts Inc. has traditionally posted revenue guarantees for many of the flights.

Vail has also explored the potential for flights from London and other international destinations during winter months. But that won't happen soon. Eagle County Commissioner Peter Runyon tells the Vail Daily that the cost of creating a dedicated customs and immigration facility at the airport would be upwards of $5 million.

Besides, it's just a short hop to Denver, which already has most of those connections.

Small step towards geothermal

ASPEN, Colo. - Aspen continues to take steps toward developing what utility officials hope will be a reservoir of hot water below the town that can be used to heat buildings and melt snow on sidewalks.

Anecdotal evidence for such a reservoir of heat exists in the accounts of miners, who reported they couldn't endure the warmth of the Smuggler Mine for very long. More recent measurements of underground water during winter months reveal consistent temperatures of 50 degrees.

If the theory holds, then Aspen will need to get water rights for the underground treasure. To secure the rights, the city has appropriated $33,000 for a report to be filed at the state water court.

If those rights are approved, the next step will be drilling a well 2,500 to 3,000 feet deep.

That drilling will start to create the bigger bills, and city officials tell The Aspen Times that they hope to secure a federal grant for $3.5 million to cover these and other costs if the drilling should bear out the considerable optimism.

Real estate may be pared back

SOUTH FORK, Colo. - Plans for a real estate development in the so-far semi-virginal forests adjacent to the Wolf Creek Ski Area are being revised - again.

The plans have fluttered forward and backward for 25 years, since Texas-based investor B.J. "Red" McCombs arranged a land exchange with the U.S. Forest Service that gave him property adjacent to the ski lifts. No lodging currently exists at the ski area, and almost no non-skiing commercial development.

Now, McCombs has a new front man, Clint Jones, who has been meeting with government and environmental group representatives about a smaller, gentler real estate development. Previous plans had called for nearly 2,200 mostly time-share units at the site, located at an elevation of nearly 10,000 feet, just below Wolf Creek Pass.