Mountain Town News | AspenTimes.com

Mountain Town News

Allen Best

It seems ’60s architecture was uniformly a dud. The Park Record reports that a survey of local residents found that the modified A-frame, a fixture in some mountain towns from the 1960s, is the most hated of the architectural styles found in the town’s original residential area, called Old Town.A website called About.com explains that the triangular-shaped homes became popular after an architect named Andrew Geller built one on New York’s Long Island in 1956. It was subsequently featured in The New York Times. Although typically offering cramped living spaces, the buildings do shed snow well, making them ideal as early second homes in mountain towns and beach resorts. They also cost little to erect.Unlike the A-frames, which now seem as dated as bell-bottoms, the Victorian homes of the late 1800s still remain popular almost everywhere, including Park City and other old mining towns.

Dave Riley, the chief executive officer for the Telluride Ski and Golf Co., hasn’t exactly made himself a friend of the masses since arriving earlier this year from a ski area in Oregon.The Telluride Watch explains that Riley was at a meeting of those involved in operating the gondola that connects Telluride and its sibling slopeside town of Mountain Village. The ski company doesn’t directly operate the gondola but has a voice in operations.Using that voice, Riley challenged a proposed pay increase for gondola operators. They currently get $12 an hour starting, with an extra $1 if they stay the course of ski season. A pay increase of $1 per hour is proposed.”The National Ski Areas Association comparable position and the national wage for that job is $8.06,” said Riley. “Only 36 percent of the ski areas provide an end-of-season bonus.” He added that he questions the existing wage, let alone the increased wage.Greg Sparks, the town manager of Mountain Village, which operates the gondola, said that even at existing wages, it’s tough to hire gondola operators. Current employees come from homes that are up to two hours away in Shiprock, N.M., he said.According to Mapquest, it’s 118 miles from Shiprock to Telluride, or a drive of 2 hours and 35 minutes. Other gondola operators commute from Montrose, which is 90 minutes away.”There is not one job in the newspaper that is $8, $9, $10 an hour,” said Town Councilman Jonathan Greenspan. “The employee turnover rate will be astronomical [at a lower wage].”Responding to the story in The Telluride Watch, readers saw Riley as “delusional,” according to one comment. “You’re making a horrible first impression and a total fool of yourself,” wrote one reader, “Amy,” on the newspaper’s website. Another reader, “Joe,” advised Riley to “wake up … before they run you out of town. Better yet, just leave.”Mountain Village, notes The Watch, has been ranked as one of the 10 wealthiest municipalities in the United States.

Colorado’s Routt County is girding for a raid of water by Front Range interests. The most active proposal is for a 200-mile pipeline that would take water from the Yampa River to a reservoir east of Denver.The Colorado Legislature in 1974 adopted legislation that gives local governments power to review water and sewer district expansions. Other headwater counties – including Grand, Summit, Eagle and Pitkin – quickly adopted the regulations, called 1041, after the enabling legislation.Eagle County, in particular, used the regulations to great effect, denying a water diversion called Homestake II from the Holy Cross Wilderness Area in 1988. That denial was based, in part, upon impact to wetlands.Despite the precedent from the Vail area, the Steamboat Pilot & Today suggests that the regulations won’t be powerful enough to quash the Yampa River diversion, but would instead result in influence over the design and layout of the pipeline and allow the county to stipulate mitigation measures.

Vail resorts has lost round one of a court battle to gain possession of Park City’s The Canyons ski resort, but it’s not throwing in the towel.Lacking a preliminary injunction to stop it, American Skiing will go forward with the sale of the ski area to Talisker Canyons Finance.Vail submitted a low bid on the ski resort last summer, being topped by Talisker’s offer of $100 million. Vail then offered $110 million, but was told that it was too late.The heart of Vail’s case is a claim that Talisker and another company, Peninsula Advisors, conspired to scuttle an earlier deal between American Skiing and Vail.Vail reports spending $2 million in its lawsuits, but Rob Katz, the corporation’s chief executive officer, vowed to “pursue our legal rights related to this matter.”

A bicycle co-operative where people can donate a bike, buy a bike, learn to fix a bike, or use the co-op’s tools to fix their bikes is being planned in Durango.Russell Zimmerman, owner of the Durango Cyclery, told the Durango Telegraph that Zimmerman and two of his mechanics some time ago issued a call for old bikes and parts. Sometimes two or three bikes a day are donated. They have given away nearly 100 bikes – but still have far more old bicycles than they have time to repair.But the bicycle co-op will have a different premise, based on lessons learned. Some people came in multiple times for free bikes. Other times, Zimmerman’s group found the bikes they had provided wrecked and discarded in bushes.”We learned that if you give people stuff, they don’t take care of it. But if they pay $25 for it, they probably will take care of it.”Mechanic Bob Gregorio said keeping bikes from going to the landfill is at the heart of the co-op concept. “It feels much better to fix something up in the hopes that someone else will be able to use it,” he said.The co-op will likely subsist on grants, donations, fees and fundraisers.

Real estate continues to be the lead story in Revelstoke. The new ski area, Revelstoke Mountain Resort, started offering base-area single-family lots recently, managing to sell 80 percent in the first day. The lots, ranging in size from .5 to 1.5 acres, were valued at $700,000 to $1.35 million. The ski area is to open this winter with a $22 million eight-person gondola to help service what is projected to ultimately have the most vertical – 7,000 feet – of any ski area in North America.It’s not the only change in Revelstoke. Even before Denver-based developer Don Simpson arrived with the deep pockets to develop the ski area, housing prices had been rapidly rising. In 2003, the average home cost was $116,000. Today, it stands at $348,000.Very few of the purchasers, according to real estate agent Cynthia Kidd, are local buyers, and very few have families. Most buyers range in age from 28 to 54, and few are planning to move right away.With rents rapidly rising, there are many and varied discussions about how to house the lower-income people. An Affordable Housing Corporation and city leaders hope to see Crown land – somewhat akin to Forest Service lands in the United States, except administered by the provincial government – pressed into service for affordable housing.Allen Best compiles Mountain Town News. He can be reached at allen.best@comcast.net.