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Backcountry fumes and fuming

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Colorado’s ski industry, he says, has very good reason to feel threatened by the rapidly changing climate. “If this is a sign that this is being understood at Vail Resorts, that’s great, because I think it’s very important for the ski industry to lead on this,” he said. “And Vail Resorts on this environmental issue has not led. This would be great if they would do this.”

Two issues are paramount in the proposal. First, where Vail Resorts plans to install employee housing that is expected under new ordinances being discussed in Vail. Second, a major issue in Vail remains the lack of public parking. Vail has occasionally severe parking shortages, particularly on weekends, when the major parking structures overflow, yielding day skiers parking along the frontage road paralleling Interstate 70 — last Saturday more than five miles.

Jim Lamont, who represents a large number of Vail property owners, said Vail Resorts has agreed in concept to parking and affordable housing commitments, “but the devil is in the details, and those remain to be negotiated.” The company expects to submit formal plans to town officials within the next several weeks.

Those details aside, Lamont said he sees this project being a significant stride toward his goal of creating a “world-class resort city.”

The location for the new base village is west of the existing LionsHead Mall, an area now occupied by an office building, the ski company’s maintenance facilities, and an abandoned gas station. Not included is Vail sewage treatment plant.

 

Weaving community fabric

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. – How can a community retain that fabric of cohesion when it is bursting at its britches with new people? People in the ski towns and resort valleys of the West have been asking that probably since the beginning, but especially of late.

In Basalt, for example, town officials have wondered how they can better reach out to two very different groups: second-home owners and Latino immigrants.

In Steamboat, a recent gathering of the Yampa Valley Community Alliance grappled with that same issue. The discussions, reported the Steamboat Pilot & Today, centered around the importance of embracing change, the impact of wealth, and promoting a “sense of community.”

“The wealth is going to accelerate so fast in the next 18 months,” said Noreen Moore, business resource director for the Routt County Economic Development Cooperative.”

Moore said better dialogue is needed among newcomers, retirees, and part-timers. Another speaker argued for more co-mingling among different neighborhoods, including more community dinners. Group members even discussed the idea of knocking on the doors of new multi-million dollar homes to meet their owners and help assimilate them into the community.