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Mountain News: Two takes on global challenges



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VAIL, Colo. – A $1 billion slope-side real estate project called Ever Vail has been accepted into a pilot neighborhoods’ program under the aegis of LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design). Rob Katz, chief executive officer of Vail Resorts, the developer, said the company will seek a silver designation, which is the second highest of four potential designations. The project is scheduled to start in 2009, although it must first get town approvals.


Targhee plan just too much

DRIGGS, Idaho – It appears that the proposal by the Gillett family to expand the real-estate holdings at the base of Grand Targhee is likely to be rejected, at least as currently proposed. The ski area currently has 96 units, but the family proposes to expand to 725 units.

But at a meeting covered by the Jackson Hole News & Guide, four of the five Teton County commissioners said they believe the proposal calls for too much, particularly given the location. The resort base area is at 8,500 feet in elevation, and is surrounded by Forest Service land. By comparison, the base of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, is 6,300 feet.

One commissioner, Ben Ellis, suggested the recommendation of planning commissioners last year — 450 free-market, employee, and affordable units — was on target.

George Gillett, the one-time owner of Vail and Beaver Creek, purchased the ski area in 1996. His son, Geordie Gillett, has taken the lead on this project.

The ski area is located on the west side of the Teton Range, barely within Wyoming. Most directly affected are the Idaho communities of Driggs and Alta. The newspaper says the proposal has divided even long-time residents, even within the same extended families.

Rex Christiansen, 65, who helped build the ski area in the 1960s, lives nearby and will be heavily impacted by a bigger, busier resort. “If there’s a loud construction noise, his house will be the closest. If the night sky is brighter once the resort is built, his bedroom will be nearer,” says the newspaper. Yet he favors the proposal.

Christiansen said the ski area was built with the idea of providing more employment opportunities. “You were either a farmer or a school teacher or a builder,” he told the paper. He also notes that the ski area always was intended to grow, with a master plan 36 years ago that called for a capacity of 6,000 skiers and accommodations for 3,000 overnights.

But another man named Christiansen — Jim, 74, a cousin — says Grand Targhee is “sacred and hallow.” He was also involved in the creation of the ski area, but even at its opening there were worries about it becoming too popular. He said the turning of the tide occurred in 1973, when majority ownership was sold to somebody from Cincinnati.