BOCC freestyles to right decision |

BOCC freestyles to right decision

When it was first proposed, we said the Landon Morley Sawyer Freestyle Training Center was a good idea for the Keystone Resort and all of Summit County.

So we commend the Board of County Commissioners for giving the zoning approval necessary Monday for it to be built.

The center will bring an energy and business to the county and reaffirm the Summit as one big ski town.

Keystone, in particular, needs a boost. About a quarter of a million skier days have disappeared from the resort in recent years and, as many learned, property values in some quarters flattened, if not plunged.

When Vail Resorts put Roger McCarthy at Keystone to be its chief executive officer, he soon found out Keystone had its financial fingers in many places – many of them not related to the core business of running a ski resort.

As he knows, in the end, it still has to be about skiing – regardless of the changing demographics and the emphasis on real estate. The only reason real estate took off in the first place is because of the sex appeal of skiing.

Today, the skiing mix is changing and the baby boomers are less enthusiastic about hitting the slopes and more interested in sipping wine and relaxing in a leather chair, reading the Wall Street Journal.

That’s great, but the future of the sport is in the young, and they’d rather be freestyling, doing the trees or riding the rails. They can read the Wall Street Journal later. The proposed freestyle center feeds that energy while bringing elite athletes and their families to the county. It synergizes with the sense of renewal taking place all over Keystone.

We can empathize with the Tennis Townhome and Quicksilver owners who feel their peace and quiet will be lessened by their proposed new neighbor at the defunct tennis center.

Yes, Keystone should have practiced better advance PR work in apprising homeowners of the plans.

We also can cry a tear or two with the tennis players who lament the resort’s rapid retreat from the tennis business. Tennis, anyone?

But McCarthy made it clear the resort was retrenching to core business elements, and tennis was not one of them since it was costing the resort $100,000 a year to operate.

Before Ken and Linda Sawyer came along with a new idea for the seven acres, nobody bellied up to take over the tennis concession.

Sooner or later, Vail Resorts, owner of Keystone, would have found some higher and better use for the property. We’re glad it’s going to be a freestyle training center and not another condo or townhouse project.

Opinions published in this space are formulated by members of the Summit Daily News editorial board: Michael Bennett, Jim Pokrandt, Jason Starr, Rachel Toth, Reid Williams, Kim Nicoletti and Martha Lunsky.

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