By Allen Best
VAIL, Colo. – Vail is contemplating a Christo-type project on its golf course. There, an artist from Denver wants to install 2,700 windmills, each standing eight feet tall and topped with an electric light that would glow when the wind turns the turbines. The cost to the town, should they choose to go forward with the idea, will be $94,500.
The council appears enthusiastic, but the idea is thick with
details, and closer inspection of those details may reveal devils. If approved,
the windmills will be erected for the month between spring equinox, March 11,
and Earth Day, April 22.
The Vail Daily reports that town officials see this as an exercise in cultural tourism similar to the 2005 Gates Project in New York City, when the artist Christo and his wife and collaborator, Jeanne-Claude, draped 7,500 saffron curtains around New York’s Central Park.
As well, there is a symbolic hook, in that the two public
agencies involved, the Town of Vail and the Vail Recreation District, both
purchased wind energy credits. As well, Vail Resorts, which operates the ski
area, purchased massive amounts of wind power earlier this year.
“Increasingly the expectations of the community and of our
guests is that we go more green, and we’re trying to go in that direction,”
says Suzanne Silverthorne, the town’s community relations officer.
The artist, Patrick Marold, previously installed 200 windmills in Iceland, where he lived for a year on a Fulbright Fellowship.
Timing is everything in sale of Steamboat
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. – You don’t think that timing is everything? Consider the Steamboat ski area, which is owned (at least for a few more months) by the American Skiing Co. In 2002, the financially-strapped company put the ski area on the market and tentatively accepted a bid for $91 million from Tim and Diane Mueller.
American Skiing then had second thoughts, instead selling California’s Heavenly to Vail Resorts.
Meanwhile, Steamboat has had good snow years, destination skiers are back, and the real estate market grows ever stronger. American Skiing tested the waters again, and this time came up with a buyer — Fortress, through its subsidiary, Intrawest — willing to pay $265 million.
That’s near a tripling of value in just four years.
Banff resorts allowed relatively few changes
BANFF, Alberta – Ski areas located in the national parks of Alberta may very well be changing, although they are unlikely to become clones of the amenity-littered resorts found in the United States and in other parts of Canada.
Parks Canada, which administers Banff National Park, where several of the ski areas are located, has released new rules governing modifications. The ski areas will be able to install new lifts, cut new runs, and widen existing ski trails. As well, they can expand their warming huts, restaurants, and other buildings — but only if these changes are within the existing footprint.
Two ski areas, Marmot Basin in Jasper and Ski Banff @ Norquay, will also be able to introduce summer use, as long as they can prove it won’t create environmental disruption.
What the ski area operators did not win, reports the Rocky Mountain Outlook, is authority to build base-area lodging and new restaurants. Instead, skiers will instead be required to commute to existing towns.