ATM: Houses and more houses in Roaring Fork Valley
GLENWOOD SPRINGS – The urban-, suburban-, and exurbanization of the Roaring Fork Valley is, for all practical intents and purposes, a done deal. Yet another of the dominoes between Aspen and Glenwood Springs has now fallen with approval of a new 577-unit project in the Spring Valley area southeast of Glenwood springs.The project will go on 6,000 acres, giving it a density of about 10 acres per lot. The project will include two golf courses, one of them a 9-hole, par-3 affair, plus 75 deed-restricted affordable housing units, reports the Glenwood springs Post Independent.The project has been before Garfield County since the mid-1980s, but it’s no better now than before, says the dissenting commissioner, Jim Martin. “We are not preserving agriculture and our heritage. What we have done is create a new gated community,” he said.Dual-language students heading to high schoolEAGLE VALLEY – The dual-immersion program that began at an elementary school in the Vail area will produce its first students at Battle Mountain High School next year.The students in the program are split evenly between native English speakers and native Spanish speakers, and the students learn from each other as well as the teachers, explains the Vail Daily. Reading, math, science and social studies classes are conducted in Spanish and English.School officials tell the newspaper that the challenge will be to keep the students challenged academically. To do that, they need to find teachers who are not only bilingual, but can teach, for example, a Spanish and English literature class.As well, with so many bi-literate students now arriving in the pipeline, school officials hope to expand their language offerings. In addition to Spanish, French and German, high school principal Brian Hester says he would be interested in someday finding teachers of Chinese and Arabic. He said studies have shown that once a person has learned a second language, it’s easier to learn third and fourth languages.The school district is now nearly 50 percent Hispanic, many of them immigrants.The Roaring Fork School District, down-valley from Aspen, also is about half Hispanic, and it now has two schools with dual-immersion language programs, although neither is a high school.Rescue group gets $54,000 from class-action lawsuitWHISTLER, B.C. – A search and rescue team in Whistler is $54,000 richer, thanks to a lawsuit. Maxwell Buhler, president of Whistler Snowboard Tours, filed a class-action lawsuit against a cable company, claiming the company overcharged consumers. He won, and those clients were notified. But relatively few applied for the refunds, so the settlement surplus was given – for the first time in Canadian history – to a non-profit of the plaintiff’s choosing. The group rescues between 20 and 40 people every year, operating on an annual budget of $35,000, reports Pique.Whistler suburb looks to leverage 2010 OlympicsPEMBERTON, B.C. – Located about 20 minutes from Whistler, Pemberton is an agriculture-based town of 2,200 people. Unlike Whistler, where population increase has been slow, Pemberton has grown at 7-plus percent annually.With a gazillion people expected at Whistler for the 2010 Winter Olympics, the local business and community leaders in Pemberton are calculating how to leverage that into an opportunity to define their future. What they see is something not exactly novel in mountain towns of the North American West.”The biggest thing we’re selling here is lifestyle,” says Paul Selina, who is president of the local chamber. “We’re not attracting anyone because it’s a hub of industry. So if someone wants to locate a business here, and live in a pristine environment next to nature, and not spoil it, then that’s great.”Jordan Sturdy, the mayor, says the town must risk failure as it moves forward. But the town should diversify. “I fail every year on my farm. Every year, some things wildly exceed your expectations. And some don’t. They fail. But if you’re diversified enough, you can just learn from it and move on.”Outgoing mayor says its time to batten the hatchesHAILEY, Idaho – Susan McBryant, the outgoing mayor in Hailey, located 12 miles down-valley from Ketchum and Sun Valley, sees stormy weather ahead in the economy, which she believes means that local governments should reduce the supply of housing inventory coming through the pipeline.Allowing too much new development, she tells the Idaho Mountain Express, is likely to result in too much inventory for the market to absorb, putting some projects at risk of defaulting on loans.”It’s not a stretch to think that there could be default with current construction,” she said. “Denying the next ‘big project’ wouldn’t be to keep a developer from making a profit, but rather to ensure the health, safety and welfare of Hailey’s current residents.”High school students enchanted with starsKREMMLING – West of Kremmling, a gated-ranch community has been configured as a retreat for Hollywood stars and others of wealth. But inside the old logging, ranching, and mining town, local high school students are taking aim at stars of another nature, those found in the sky.A 14-inch telescope is housed in an old observatory building donated by the White Sands Missile Range in Las Cruces, N.M.”I really like science, and I think it’s cool seeing what’s out there in the sky,” Ricky Gambling, a junior, told the Sky-Hi Daily News.But the Internet had already made the universe only finger tips away. Students at the high school’s geology and astronomy classes are using an automated telescope in New Mexico to view deep-space objects via computer terminals.Ripples but no waves yet from the subprime messDURANGO – The Durango Telegraph went looking for waves from the nation’s subprime mortgage fiasco, but could barely find ripples. The number of real estate sales in the area has dropped, but that’s been happening at resort areas across the West for a couple of years. Also similar to other resort areas, median home prices have increased, by about 5.5 percent.Samantha Gallant, president of the Durango Area Association of Realtors, said problems could yet develop as the result of harder-hit areas, such as Arizona, California, and Texas.”We’re vulnerable, of course. If our feeder markets are suffering, we’ll feel the effects.”The most immediate impact has been a curb to speculative homebuilding. Russ Turpin, president of the Southwest Colorado Homebuilders Association, said some spec homes are still sitting empty. “Everyone decided it was a good idea to become a spec builder, but now they’re learning it’s not as easy as it looks.”Still, there seemed to be no alarm. “After 29 years at this, I’ve learned there are always going to be adjustments,” said John Wells, a real estate broker.Ski area ratings frown on expansion and real estateDRIGGS, Idaho – Grand Targhee is none too amused with the grade given to the ski area by the Ski Area Citizens Coalition. Targhee got a C.It’s not that the coalition didn’t find a lot to like about Grand Targhee. Based on its on-mountain programs, the resort would be close to an A, Ben Doon, the coalition’s research director, told the Jackson Hole News & Guide.But the annual coalition ratings are heavily weighted – 45 percent – by whether a ski area hopes to expand its trails outside the existing “footprint” of the ski area or build slope-side real estate. Those things, according to the coalition, are unacceptable. Targhee wants both terrain expansion and base-area real estate.Under the rating system, a ski areas can flunk one year but, with advancing years, become an A student, its past transgressions forgiven. Such is nearly the case at Telluride, which got a flunking grade in 2000 when it debuted an expansion area called Prospect Basin.Ryan Demmy Bidwell, executive director of Colorado Wild, said ski areas need to move beyond green marketing, which they are now doing very well, and actually doing things that are more environmentally friendly.”The story here is pretty clear to me,” he told the Durango Telegraph. “Cleaning up your act, and improving your score, is very possible. But it does require more than lip service and marketing rhetoric. Being a green ski area requires a shift in ideology and an honest commitment of resources.”
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