Aspen house to have a double-deep basement |

Aspen house to have a double-deep basement

ASPEN, Colo. – Above ground, the old house in Aspen will look like the miner’s cottage that it once was but with a new addition. Below ground, there will be two levels, one with a 22-foot ceiling, high enough to accommodate a basketball gym.

This will be the last house in Aspen with a two-level basement. The Aspen City Council last year outlawed super-deep basements based on the argument that it’s too disruptive to neighbors and unnecessarily consumptive of resources. The house remodel had been approved prior to that action.

But in remarks to the Aspen Daily News, Mayor Steve Skadron suggested that it’s not just a matter of getting along with the neighbors. Rather, he said, it’s not “the kind of project that speaks to community values.”

Town laws will continue to allow 40- and 50-foot-deep excavations for commercial projects.

Odor-eater chews up skunky cannabis smell

ASPEN, Colo. – A cannabis proprietor in Aspen has bet his farm, literally, that an odor-mitigation system will keep neighbors from howling about the skunky smell coming from his marijuana plants.

“This summer has been horrendous for us,” said one neighbor of the marijuana greenhouses at a meeting of more than 100 people. The Aspen Daily News explains that the neighbors complained of the unpleasant odor coming from the operation, which is not uncommon.

Jordan Lewis, founder of Aspen’s Silverpeak Apothecary, the cannabis store, and High Valley Farms, the grow operation, said he has spent more than $1 million to buy a carbon-filtered odor-mitigation system. “We literally bet the farm on this solution,” he said.

From all available evidence presented at the Pitkin County commissioners’ meeting, the new system seems to work. All but one commissioner voted to allow him to continue operations as long as odors don’t bother the neighbors.

Commissioner Steve Child pointed out that all precincts in Pitkin County in 2012 voted for Colorado’s constitutional amendment that authorizes growing and sale of cannabis. The county as a whole was 75 percent in support, second only to the 79 percent of San Miguel County (Telluride) among Colorado’s 64 counties.

“And then it’s a case of everybody took a not-in-my-backyard attitude,” said Child.

Ketchum hotel to have works of local artists

KETCHUM, Idaho – Using the formula they have used in Aspen and Snowmass, representatives of the Aspen Skiing Co. have approached officials in Idaho about employing local art in their new hotel.

Expected to be completed in late 2016, the hotel in Ketchum will be part of Aspen’s new Limelight chain. The Limelight hotel in Aspen was the first. Like it, the others are projected to be of moderate cost in the context of high-end, lifestyle-happy communities. The company has also kicked the tires in Boulder, Colorado, and Charleston, North Carolina.

At Aspen and Snowmass, the company works with the Aspen Art Museum, which suggests artists to feature on lift tickets. Their shared goal, explained Don Schuster, a vice president of the Aspen Skiing Co., is to incorporate art into unexpected places.

A mid-mountain Elk Camp restaurant at Snowmass, another Aspen Skiing Co. property, also has a mural that seeks to depict an aerial view of the ski area. Aspen representatives say they hope to similarly incorporate local art from Ketchum into the new hotel in downtown Ketchum.

Mike Kaplan, executive of the ski company, and Heidi Zuckerman, chief executive of the museum, also appeared before the Ketchum City Council, reports the Idaho Mountain Express.

No more plastic water bottles sold at festivals

KETCHUM, Idaho – Take a plastic bottle of water to a festival in Ketchum? You bet. But buy a bottle of water there? Not a chance.

The city council in Ketchum, located at the base of the Sun Valley ski area, has banned sale and distribution of single-use plastic water battles at city events and on city property.

In doing so, Ketchum follows actions in New York City, Seattle, San Francisco and Chicago. All prohibit the use of tax dollars to purchase bottled water. Fourteen national parks also ban sales of bottled water.

In talking with the Idaho Mountain Express, Ketchum Mayor Nina Jonas stressed the high quality of Ketchum’s water. It comes from streams, with the only chemical added being the federally managed chloride.

Housing and climate targeted in Park City

PARK CITY, Utah – Transportation is already a top-tier issue for Park City’s elected officials. Affordable housing is joining transportation, and climate change may also.

The Park Record reports that the city council has established a blue-ribbon commission to explore policies needed to support affordable housing.

The city is also considering elevating energy and climate change to the same top-tier among issues. Comments from a variety of city council members indicate strong support for doing so.

Stiffing panhandlers but assisting local charities

DURANGO, Colo. – Durango seems to have been hit by panhandlers this summer. Seems is a squishy word, meaning nobody has any numbers to prove the increase. But the perception has been strong enough that a downtown quasi-government organization had decided to push a new approach.

Instead of giving money to panhandlers, says Tim Walsworth, the executive director of the Business Improvement District, people are encouraged to donate dollars to local charities that help individuals and families in need.

It won’t solve the problem, he tells the Durango Telegraph. After all, there are many reasons people are homeless or panhandling. Some are addicted to alcohol or drugs. Others are mentally ill. Others have had financial troubles. For some, homeless, panhandling, or both are merely choices, not necessities.

And panhandlers and the homeless can be two very different populations, he says.

Walsworth says the campaign his group sponsors is a short-term solution, but one that lets local business owners know they are trying to address the problem.

Why more outstretched hands? Again, nobody really knows. The local soup kitchen isn’t serving more meals. The homeless shelter isn’t getting more people.

Could it be the arrival of legal marijuana? Some wonder, but there’s no evidence.

Studying tree rings to date a decaying grist

TAOS, N.M. – Dendrochronology can be used for many and wide-ranging purposes. That’s the formal name for dating ages of trees by counting tree rings. In wetter, warmer years the trees have wider rings, and in drought years narrow ones.

By studying rings from a great many areas, for example, dendrochronologists have been able to create something of a climatic record going back 2,000 years in the Colorado River Basin. This gives us a better idea of what “normal” looked like, before the influence of humans. There were wide swings, including much longer droughts than anything we have known.

Near Taos, tree-rings have been used for another purpose. A few years ago, the Taos Historical Society approached an archaeologist from the University of New Mexico. The question was how old a one-time grist mill — called a molino in Latino cultures — was.

The molino was abandoned in the 1930s and has been decaying, But logs of ponderosa pine remained intact and the evidence was shipped to the Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research at the University of Arizona in Tucson. There, a large number of trees have been catalogued. They overlap, providing a chronological calendar, of sorts. And the evidence was clear: The trees from the mill had quit growing in 1879.

Jasper scientist fired, and objections mount

JASPER, Alberta – More than 100 former employees of Parks Canada and scientists have signed a letter voicing displeasure at the firing of the senior scientist in Jasper National Park. They accuse the Canadian government of instilling “fear” among those still working for the agency.

John Wilmshurst was fired in June after 15 years for reasons that remain shrouded, explains the Jasper Fitzhugh. He would not comment when contacted by the Jasper Fitzhugh, and the parks agency refused to talk about a personnel matter.

Nik Lopoukhine, a retired director general of national parks in Canada, said the issue is more than just one individual. “It’s more about the reality that science has been cut back and projects that are going forward are contravening the National Parks Act.”

The letter was issued a week after Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society launched a campaign objecting to what they see as the commercialization of Canada’s national parks.

And just what is the economy here?

TELLURIDE, Colo. – “The day we start thinking that we can dispense with tourist-based revenues … we will not have housing as an issue anymore, because people will not have jobs.” Greg Clifton, Telluride town manager, during a discussion about the need to upgrade the stage in the town park used at the bluegrass and other festivals, as quoted in the Daily Planet.

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