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Around the Mountains: Vail joins Aspen, others, in welcoming gay skiers

ALLEN BEST
special to the daily

VAIL – Vail has joined the resorts with dedicated efforts to attract gay skiers. The Vail Gay Ski Week will be held Jan. 27-31, immediately after Aspen hosts its 33rd annual Gay Ski Week. Telluride hosts a similar affair in February, and Whistler also has long had a gathering of gay skiers.

Aspen’s affair attracted 1,500 to 2,000 people last year, mostly from out of state. Vail’s event aims for 500 to 1,000, mostly from Denver and other Front Range communities. Organizers for both events tell The Aspen Times that they see no particular competition.

KREMMLING – As has long been noted, Lord George Gore lived up to his name. An Irish baronet, he traveled in the American West during 1854-55, led by the legendary mountain man Jim Bridger. With a huge entourage to attend to his whims, Lord leisurely killed deer, elk and bear, plus antelope, moose and whatever else crossed his path. He had a cadre of assistants to drive the animals in front of him.

For this gluttony, Gore was remembered with a mountain range that sprawls from Steamboat Springs to Leadville. This same range is riven by a major canyon cut by the Colorado River, notched by a pass, and drained by a creek that flows through Vail. All are named Gore.

And that, argues Jeffry B. Mitton, a professor at the University of Colorado-Boulder, constitutes an injustice. Writing a column originally published in the Boulder Daily Camera, he argues that the name should be retained – but the namesake changed. He would propose that the namesake be changed to honor Al Gore, the former U.S. president.

Gore, the hunter, ‘”killed for personal aggrandizement, for bragging rights,”‘ says Mitton. Gore, the politician, was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize.

Is this likely to happen? Probably not, as the U.S. Board of Geographic Names, which has authority over such matters, does not allow names of living persons. And, it is likely that there are no rules for changing the namesake of a geographic feature.

EAGLE – Christmas was hardly a time of serenity in Eagle, where residents are arguing the merits of a major shopping center and housing complex called Eagle River Station. Residents will go to the polls on Tuesday to decide the outcome of the proposal, which would feature a Target, an organic food store, plus dozens of other shops at a location along Interstate 70. This is about 30 miles west of Vail.

Even in the late 1990s, cattle were trailed through the town on the annual drive to and from the summer grazing grounds on nearby Castle Peak. Now, herds of SUVs crowd the streets morning and night, evidence of the population growth that made Eagle the second-fastest growing town in Colorado in 2008.

Town officials say they expect to need $100 million in infrastructure improvements, primarily roads and bridges, during the next 20 years. This is regardless of whether the shopping complex gets built. The complex, however, likely will provide a huge boost in tax revenues.

Writing in the Vail Daily, editor Don Rogers argues that the project will improve the quality of life and describes the developer, Redd Development, which has done projects in Arizona, Missouri and other states, as “among the tops in the business…. they have a track record of doing what they say they will do.”

Another voice in support comes from lifelong resident Herb Eaton. Writing in the Eagle Valley Enterprise, he argues that the launch of Vail in 1962 made it impossible for Eagle to remain the agricultural town of his youth. “Development does change lifestyle,” he agrees, but asks critics: “Would any of us be here without development? I almost guarantee with certainty, none of you came here with the intentions of tending to a flock of sheep.”

But another letter writer, Liz Spetnagel, contends that Eagle River Station is not the answer to what ails the town. The shopping complex, she contends, is a “dying 1990’s retail construct that will only disperse our existing sales tax revenues while continuing to damage the best thing Eagle has, its small-town charm.”

A Costco store had originally been envisioned for the site, but Eagle voters several years ago rejected it. Instead, the adjacent town of Gypsum took in the store and most of its tax revenues. But most people still drive to the store by going through Eagle.


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