Friday, July 30, 2010

Mountain Town News


Colorado towns mixed on medical weed

VAIL, Colo.—Governments in ski towns and elsewhere in Colorado continue to wrestle with what to do about medical marijuana dispensaries. State voters several years ago authorized medical marijuana, but the Obama administration opened the gate by announcing it wouldn't enforce federal laws.

Response of local governments has varied. The university town of Boulder didn't attempt to throw up many roadblocks and may realize $260,000 in sales tax revenues. In Denver, radio ads have told listeners that no matter the hour, a doctor can be found to evaluate the medical need for marijuana. And in Summit County, the sheriff last winter made the wry comment that he'd never seen so many 21-year-olds with ear aches.

Yes, there's a bit of hypocrisy in all this.

But if a town's voters supported medical marijuana several years ago, as was the case in Vail, how can a local municipality then close and bolt the door?

That was the essential question posed by the Colorado Independent after Vail town council members banned dispensaries.

Allowing pot shops "flies in the face of the tone we've tried to set in this community," said Vail Mayor Dick Cleveland. He was backed by longtime council member Kevin Foley, a waiter. "To me it's just that when you've got guests coming here from all over the country and all over the world, I just don't think we need to have it here in town," he said.

Breckenridge went the opposite direction. Voters there clearly supported legalization of marijuana, and town council members said they felt they needed to honor that. "But it couldn't be just a free-for-all," said Jennifer McAtamney.

Regulations in Breckenridge ban doctors from working at dispensaries and require inventory controls, surveillance cameras, and air-filtration systems.

Aspen to continue kids' spring ski-free come-on

ASPEN, Colo.—The Aspen Skiing Co. expects improved business next winter, but will continue to offer better deals to make sure it does indeed improve.

After skier visits plunged more than 7 percent with the recession the company bounced back with a 4 percent gain this year. But to achieve that, it offered a program in March called Kids Stay, Ski Free package with lodges at Aspen and Snowmass Village.

Next year, it will continue that program, extending it into April--if the snow holds out. Easter falls on April 24. Mike Kaplan, chief executive of Aspen Skiing, told a business group recently that he expects Aspen can achieve the pre-recession numbers next winter.

Telluride home gets gold LEED rating

TELLURIDE, Colo.—Telluride now has a gold-rated LEED-certified home, a three-bedroom affair on the town's main street. Gold is the third highest of four levels in the U.S. Green Building Council's rating system. The house has triple-glazed windows, a roof made of energy-tight structural insulated panels and a deck made from Trex, a product made from a composite of recycled plastic and other recycled materials.

Seeking LEED certification for the house cost at least $4,000 in added inspection costs, said Peter Sante, the architect. But that and other higher upfront costs will be offset by the lower cost of electricity, gas and water "forever," he told The Telluride Watch.

More towns hew to idea of low-waste special events

VAIL, Colo.—The idea of zero-waste special events has been spreading among ski towns. In Telluride, firefighters for the second year used compostable plates and cutlery for their community July Fourth picnic. Local environmental activist Kris Holstrom reported that 83 percent of trash was diverted from the landfill.

In Vail, a farmer's market has become a big, big deal on Sundays. Recently, the town environmental sustainability coordinator, Kristen Bertuglia, enlisted cheerleaders from the local high school to encourage more recycling and composting at the weekly event.

Grizzly bear ambles and campers litter

BANFF, Alberta—A grizzly bear wandered through Banff recently, and at last sighting was headed for the Banff Springs Golf Course. Meanwhile, Banff National Park authorities levied a fine of $4300 to a Calgary woman, who had been the official campsite renter where a mess had been left. "There was a huge mess left when the group departed," said Anita Szabo, a crown prosecutor. "The concern is that it will draw bears and other wildlife. It just cannot happen in a national park," she told the Rocky Mountain Outlook.

Allen Best publishes Mountain Town News, which tracks trends in mountain resort valleys of the West. He can be found at

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