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Local perspective on the Vail deal

By Mark Reaman

Crested Butte mayor Jim Schmidt:

I was not completely surprised, as we have heard rumors of a sale of the ski area about every other year since I’ve lived in Crested Butte. Certainly the addition of Crested Butte to the Epic Pass program was a premonition. There are many questions to be asked and answered, with the main one being how will a Wall Street corporation change the funky little town we love so dearly. My guess is that winters will be busier and the price of real estate will take a jump up. I am hopeful the new owners will be actively involved in providing workforce housing. It’s like the craft brewery that just got bought up by Coors or Budweiser—will it taste the same?

Mt. Crested Butte mayor Todd Barnes:

It’s exciting and I look forward to working with the new ownership. Whatever they bring forward we can work with or modify and suit it to the needs of the valley and the guest. I believe investment in housing and infrastructure and on-mountain improvements is sorely needed. We need to maintain that funkiness associated with Crested Butte and the resort (so we can pass it on to the next generation) while accepting the opportunity for investment in the valley. It’s up to us, the people, to not lose the soul. If you keep the soul and you have the new influx of money and visitors—you have a winner.

Crested Butte-Mt. Crested Butte Chamber of Commerce executive director Ashley UpChurch:

I see this as a positive move for local businesses. I expect this will grow our winters and ease the financial strain of long off-seasons for our tourist-based economy. I’m also hopeful that it will help GUC fill more seats. This will be a positive change for the local economy and our local business owners.

Gunnison mayor Jim Gelwicks:

I am hopeful that the change in ownership continues and strengthens our partnerships throughout the valley.

Gunnison County commissioner Jonathan Houck:

I have been in the valley long enough to have gone through this before and know the best thing to do is open up doors of discussion with the new owners. I was encouraged to hear they have spent time digging into the OVPP documents and reports to better understand the community’s values and its challenges. Outreach has begun so we can see what the timelines, transitions and expectations will be. Many of the issues the new ownership will be involved in are ongoing, such as housing, airport operations and transportation, so it is imperative that we welcome them to these issues and conversations as a collaborative partner. This community has a strong, respected and rooted sense of identity that can be maintained by engaging in honest and meaningful dialogue starting now.

Gunnison Country Association of Realtors president Jaima Giles:

I’m not comfortable speaking on behalf of our entire membership, as there are many different opinions in response to the announcement. I can, however, give you my professional opinion if you would like it. While it is still very fresh, history has shown us that a change in ownership can create an influx in demand, market value, and visitation in and around our area. Time will tell, but it’s my opinion that we should, at the very least, be preparing for a similar trend.

Former CBMR president and marketing guy John Norton:

There is an irony that the place that advertised, “We are not Vail” will soon become part of the Vail family. But assuming the sale goes through, we will still not be Vail! We could no more be like Vail than Vail could be like us.

Gunnison County commissioner John Messner:

I’ve been a part of the Gunnison Valley since 1991 and this will be the third owner of the ski area since I started skiing here. Throughout all of the different owners, I have seen us continue to embrace the new and cherish the old, while keeping our independent spirit and sense of community. I don’t see any reason why this changes anything. We are who we are and are a place that folks love to visit because of the people in our community and the values we share. I will welcome Vail Resorts the same way I welcome any newcomer to our community, will share our core values with them and will strive to work in a collaborative fashion, like I have with the previous owners of the ski area, to strengthen our economy, manage tourism sustainably and responsibly, continue to work towards overcoming our affordable housing challenges all while continuing to preserve the character and spirit of our community.

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