Top 5 stories on SummitDaily.com, week of Oct. 13
Editor’s note: Stories in this list received the most page views on SummitDaily.com for the past week.
An American family with ties to the Summit County community has found itself in the midst of a growing international incident after a Caribbean vacation turned into a nightmare earlier this year.
In April, Scott Hapgood, 44, and his family — wife, Kallie, and three children — were visiting the island of Anguilla, a British territory in the eastern Caribbean from their home in Darien, Connecticut. Just a day into their vacation at the Malliouhana resort, a hotel employee came to their room, saying he was there to fix a faucet.
But the incident quickly turned violent. Members of Hapgood’s family allege that the employee, 27-year-old Kenny Mitchel, pulled a knife and tried to rob the family once inside. Hapgood was able to subdue Mitchel and pin him to the floor until law enforcement arrived on scene. Mitchel died soon after the fight, and Hapgood was arrested and charged with manslaughter.
For months, the family fought the charge in relative quiet. But with the charges still standing despite new evidence suggesting Mitchel’s death might not have been a result of the fight, the family recently took the issue public with a media push to clear Hapgood’s name, including here in Summit County.
Lift malfunctions and accidents are statistically rare, but Colorado resorts have had a rash of high-profile issues in the past three years, including one that killed a visitor at Ski Granby Ranch in December 2016.
Despite the recent incidents, Colorado is one of the safest places when it comes to riding lifts at ski resorts. According to an article by Outside Magazine, Colorado is one of 20 states that has a tramway safety board or some sort of third party regulatory agency for ski lifts. In addition, Colorado is considered to have one of the two most extensive safety boards in the country. At European ski resorts, the lift malfunction fatality rate is nine times higher than at U.S. ski areas.
“You can feel safe loading any aerial tramway in this state,” said Arapahoe Basin Slopes Maintenance Manager Louis Skowyra. “There’s nothing more scrutinized in this industry than lift safety.”
At the Summit Board of County Commissioners meeting Oct. 8, a developer asked for an exemption to zoning rules to build a new hotel and condominiums at the base of River Run Gondola at Keystone Resort.
One River Run Acquisition purchased the parcel of land, which includes the current Hunki Dori parking lot, from Keystone Resort earlier this year. The parcel is zoned for multifamily units, but the developer requested the planned unit development requirement be changed to allow for lodging units.
The exemption and the overall project were discussed at the meeting for three hours before commissioners agreed to postpone a decision. At the Oct. 22 meeting, the developer will provide an update on the parking management plan for the property, which primarily includes parking for people staying at the hotel or condos or visiting the hotel restaurant.
The change in public parking options at Keystone is concerning to some skiers and riders, who echoed previous complaints about a lack of parking at the resort.
On Election Day, members of Summit County’s Peak 7 local improvement district will vote whether to pave their roads at a cost $6.66 million. If passed, the measure will affect more than 300 homeowners in the Peak 7 neighborhood.
The neighborhood is divided on the issue of paving, with some who feel paving is absolutely necessary and others who think the costs outweigh the benefits. If passed, each landowner would have to contribute $20,000 to cover the cost of the project. That payment could be made up front or through a 10-year financing agreement, which includes 5% interest, bringing the final cost to $26,000 or more.
Ski season opening day festivities started on Friday morning, when Keystone Resort announced that Saturday would be its earliest opening day in over 20 years, with an initial expectation of being the first resort to open in North America.
But in a dramatic turn of events, Arapahoe Basin Ski Area made a sudden announcement just two hours after Keystone’s, declaring they would open their mountain that very day, officially opening ski season and reclaiming the title of first opening on the continent.
While Keystone’s opening day didn’t win the race to first official opening, it certainly was the biggest of the weekend. Hundreds of skiers and riders packed the parking lots, bustled through River Run Village and snaked in a line around the River Run Gondola.
Arapahoe Basin was a much quieter and serene scene, one that some locals say they prefer. A-Basin, still basking in the afterglow of their successful opening day stunt, had pretty much no lines and ample parking for guests, an intended result of peeling away from Vail Resorts’ Epic Pass after last season.
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