Friday, November 15, 2019

Search Results for: resort town life

Arts Alliance teams up for the arts

“Across America, cities that once struggled economically are reinventing and rebuilding themselves by investing in art and culture. Both are proven catalysts for growth and economic prosperity. By creating cultural hubs, non-profit art businesses help cities define themselves, draw tourists, and attract investment.” Read More »

CB real estate sales starting to look up this year

List prices dropping

Real estate sales in Crested Butte appear to be gaining momentum. Sotheby’s real estate agent Channing Boucher reported in his July newsletter that 101 homes and condos have sold in the north end of the valley this year, from Crested Butte South to Mt. Crested Butte.


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Econ 101…thoughts

A few weeks ago, Chamber of Commerce director Richard Bond stated that they’d like to bring in more high-paying jobs to the county.
“…it’s not going to take a lot to create $8 an hour jobs. We could do that today without a lot of energy, but to create $80 an hour jobs is really where we want to be.”
Let me know if you have an opening for one of those $80 an hour jobs. That six-figure salary would make my life easier for sure.

Summer Forecast
According to those at last week’s Crested Butte-Mt. Crested Butte Chamber of Commerce report to the community, we can expect a busy summer. All sorts of bike races and events, an expanded music fest, zip lines, and the chance for an abundance of wildflowers given the water situation, will all contribute to a lot of people visiting the valley this summer. It starts now with Restaurant Week, spills over into Ride-the-Rockies and goes into high gear from there. Down at WSC, they are expecting an additional 5,000 visitors this summer between conferences, camps and orientations.
Buckle up.

Holy Moly mining…not
For those who tout the economic benefit of a mine bringing in high-paying jobs that don’t exist in Crested Butte, don’t bank on it. According to last Sunday’s Denver Post, mine company giant Freeport-McMoRan is gearing up to re-open the Climax molybdenum mine in Leadville. The Post article states, “Freeport-McMoRan won’t disclose wage scales, but townspeople have been told that entry-level jobs will pay about $15 an hour.”
FYI—Mountain Express bus drivers make between $14 and $22 an hour.
A mining company will certainly pay bigger bucks for skilled specialty workers who can operate machines made for the mine. But if you’re that dude running the Painter Boy lift, don’t expect to get hired to run the VSI5x Impact Crusher and suddenly find yourself pulling down $100K. Not gonna happen.

Oil and Gas
Similar arguments are made in the region and the state about another extractive industry in our county. Oil and gas wells are starting to pop up on the other side of Kebler Pass near the coal fields. Gunnison County is looking at regulating them with a shorter leash. While the county appreciates the money brought in by these extractive industries, the regulators want to keep an eye on the industry as it expands in the region. Given our tourism and lifestyle dependence on clean water, clean air and clean scenery, this seems more than fair. After all, the oil and gas industry isn’t always known for being squeaky clean and its low impacts.
In fact, a meeting will be held with the county commissioners on June 14 to discuss regulation of the industry as it creeps into the region.
The public may want to circle that date and participate in the democratic process and tell your commissioners it isn’t a bad thing for us to be able to keep a closer eye on something that could have a big impact on our current economy and lifestyle.

Economic development meetings
Not to sound all cynical but as I observe the evolution of this latest economic development process it is déjà vu all over again. The latest effort appears to tap the same areas as other reports from the past. Buzzwords and phrases like “sustainable economy,” “promoting a positive brand,” “diversifying the economy,” and “attracting lone eagles” all rise to the top. Of course, like a Rorschach test, these things mean very different things to different people.
So as the committee proceeds, I’d ask that it give us something real.
Start by being honest; Manufacturing doesn’t work easily here but tourism can. Western State College is a huge asset and should be a big factor in the future. Don’t ignore Crested Butte Mountain Resort, as it is a primary draw for people both living and visiting here. Those lone eagles you want to attract will settle here for lifestyle and convenience, so funding the arts matters as does convenient airline schedules, top-of-the-line wireless technology and good schools. The month of May can suck so don’t waste time and discussion trying to argue it is better to spend money attracting “shoulder season” tourists for May 8 instead of figuring out how to attract skiers on January 8 when an amenity is up and running in place.  
Perhaps try a new approach and focus on one thing, be it boosting student numbers at the college, increasing winter tourism or creating the highest altitude, fastest, most efficient wireless network in the country. And then focus on it, explain why growing and supporting this one element can benefit the overall community, and do it. It is all intertwined—boosting one good ingredient can help make the whole recipe great.

So to summarize Econ 101 this week:
* Mines don’t necessarily bring in high-paying jobs for residents.
* Oil and gas ventures in our backyard should be watched and regulated so as to protect the lifestyle and economy we already depend on.
* Economic development organizations have to create more jobs than the executive director position to be considered successful.
* In the short term, expect a good, busy summer.
* I want one of the $80 an hour jobs.

Bike team Alpine Orthopaedics ups the ante for 2011

Posting podium results at early races

The Gunnison Valley bike team of Team Alpine Orthopaedics (AO) enters its second year of existence adding some more local iron legs/lungs to its roster.
The team came together after some brainstorming sessions between Dave Ochs and orthopedic surgeon Rhett Griggs of Alpine Orthopaedics while Ochs was receiving treatment last spring. Read More »

A fresh look at economic development in the County

From the bottom up

Stand around the Crested Butte post office on Elk Avenue for a day, and it doesn’t take long to figure out that the Gunnison Valley is a community of ideas. We all know the best way to care for our community and energize the Gunnison Valley economy. More flights into the airport. Better partnership between the ski resort and town. Greater focus on marketing for the college. Read More »

Hucking slush. Where were the elected leaders?

By the weekend, the topic of this week’s editorial was too obvious: the deplorable conditions of the Crested Butte streets, including the bus route.  Sunday, the editorial was writing itself as the bus dropped me off on Sixth Street. It wouldn’t turn into town on one of the busiest evenings of the winter. So I drove the route in my green, four-wheel-drive Chevy Tahoe to see exactly why not. Holy Crap.
After that ride, it wouldn’t be hard to pen an editorial. Page 2 would be dripping with words and phrases that included ‘anger’, ‘embarrassment’, ‘lack of foresight’, ‘lack of leadership’. I just got my car aligned and I think both my car and my back now need a chiropractor.

Let’s start with the obvious.
No one was pleased with the state of the streets last weekend. It was the topic of conversation and a source of anger pretty much everywhere from Saturday to now. It was embarrassing for a ski town to let the streets get to the point where transportation was halted because of…snow?
The fact it happened during one of the busiest times of the winter made it worse. Business owners were understandably furious. Visitors in cars became stuck and mad. Tourists on the buses were dropped off on the east side of town because the Mountain Express couldn’t navigate the Bosnian-like roads. There was no way a woman in heels from Dallas was going to head from the Four-way to Slogar. Ridiculous.
As mayor Leah Williams observed: “It’s a bad deal.”
 I don’t hear any arguments on that.

Now, let’s peel it back a layer.
Riding around in a big dump truck hauling fresh slush Monday afternoon with town public works director Rodney Due, he understood the situation and admittedly wasn’t happy with it. He described his crew as hitting the “perfect storm.”
In the movie “The Perfect Storm”, George Clooney led his guys into the eye of the storm. They died. In this case, the mayor gets the honor of the George Clooney role. I think she’ll survive.
Let’s cut to the chase. Money, manpower and luck can solve most situations like this. The town had the money but ran out of luck and manpower. Based on everything I’ve heard, it seems the town staff counted on good luck and instead got bad. Could they have done more a few weeks ago in preparation for a worst-case scenario? Yeah. They may have prepped for a normal year and instead caught themselves in a zipper when a pile of bad luck kept stacking up. Knowing Rodney, I’d bet the house it won’t happen again.
Manpower is where the need is most evident and it is the thing most in the town council’s control. The town has been almost too fiscally responsible in this case with a hiring freeze on every department except the marshal’s office. Rodney says he’ll be asking the council for a few more full-time seasonal employees to help with the roads next winter. He should make that request sooner rather than later while this latest debacle is fresh in the mind of the council.
Rodney explained his grim situation pretty well. Circumstances swelled up and made it a cluster and if you want to blame God for these consistent warm temperatures, do so at your own risk. We do live at 9,000 feet in the Rocky Mountains and we keep saying we don’t want to be like Aspen or Vail but geez… So I won’t be blaming the town staff, especially the public works guys who are working 36 hours a day…there just needs to be more of them. And that is a council decision.

So, let’s go to the top.

Aside from that God fellow who is playing with our minds while playing with the weather, the top would be the mayor and town council. While they shouldn’t be blamed for not seeing this coming, how a leader handles a situation says a lot. We hit a situation. How did they handle it? I’d say on the lame side.
When the infrastructure of a ski town essentially shuts down during one of the few busy times of the winter season, you would hope there would be at least a presence of elected town representatives. Frankly, I didn’t see much of one. Maybe they were working or out of town or spending time on the phone with the people. But in the heat of a situation, I want to see who steps up as leaders to try and make a bad situation better.
Was there a way to get people up into the heart of town when buses couldn’t complete the route? Yes. Off the top of my head on the practical side, the town officials could have coordinated with the town manager and Mountain Express to get a few of the smaller condo loop buses to shuttle people between Sixth and Second streets. Those vehicles could have turned around in the town’s west end parking lot. Even the big buses could have easily delivered passengers to the Old Town Hall, had a councilperson stand at Second and Elk and halt traffic while the bus reversed back onto Elk. It’s been done before. That’s not a perfect solution but it’s better than what happened.

At the very least, or I would say at the very most, the elected ambassadors of the town…the mayor and council…should have been out there communicating with the people. They could have been explaining the situation to their constituents. They could have been greeting people as they got off the buses.
“Hi my name is Leah (or Reed, Jim, Phoebe, Roland, John or Dan) and I’m the mayor and I’m glad you’re here and I’m sorry about this but have you ever seen so much snow? Wow! I haven’t either. Let me put your skis in my car and take you to where you’re going.”
On my travails around town during the Big Air event on Saturday and walking uptown on Sunday afternoon, hanging out on Elk Avenue Monday morning and riding in a dump truck with Rodney Monday afternoon, I didn’t see any town council members. I’m sure they were out there but they weren’t wearing bells and whistles. If my experience was any indication, those councilpeople that showed their face in public probably had someone bending their ear. Human nature would excuse them if they went back to bed and pulled the covers over their head. But I would suggest they should have been out on side streets with a tow strap pulling people out of the middle of the road.
Making an overt effort to communicate honestly and openly with those impacted might have been the least these elected officials could have done. That’s a minimum expected of leadership. Figuring out how to help tourists get from the bus stop to the core business district and greeting them as they came off the bus might have been a good gesture and made a significant positive difference. That’s the symbolic side but it goes a long way for people.
Look, overall, it was an unfortunate situation made worse by the “Perfect Storm.” Oops. While that storm ended poorly for the fishermen in the movie, the town and the council have a chance to learn from this.
We are a resort town and if hiring a couple extra people will ensure this doesn’t happen again, there is no reason not to do it. The money is there, the need is evident and the council must show some direction and make this a priority.

Look at this as a wake-up call.
The stated “values” of the council listed on its agenda references preserving a high quality of life, embracing environmental stewardship, supporting a sustainable business climate, maintaining a “real” community, being fiscally responsible and preserving an historic core. The council might take this opportunity to note and prioritize the benefits of Crested Butte being a tourist-based economy and consider adding something to their values list about providing a quality experience for tourists that visit this resort town. It’s what allows us all to live here with that high quality of life and everything else on that list.
Let’s take a breath, smile and see how they buck up and address the situation at their upcoming Monday night council meeting. With the help of our Gunnison neighbors, the streets should be clear by then.  

And if anyone spots a large, green Chevy Tahoe last seen in a slushy sinkhole somewhere on the south side of town, give me a call…


TA Board Candidate Q&A

Gunnison-Crested Butte Tourism Association

Lodging – Mt. Crested Butte

Wanda Bearth, Crested Butte Lodging & Property Management
What does tourism mean to Gunnison County?
Tourism brings with it certain economic, cultural and environmental benefits. Our local economy depends on tourism because tourists provide local businesses with revenues and because tourists are major tax contributors. Cultural benefits include the development and maintenance of amenities, events, theatre and arts programs that a community might not otherwise afford. The environmental benefit is realized as concern and interest grows in conserving and protecting the local ecosystem. Read More »

Groups and events boost spring break numbers for CBMR

Bookings up 44 percent over last March

Thanks to some key groups and events, Crested Butte Mountain Resort will end the ski season on a high note. Both the International Airline Ski Federation and the Matthew Shepard Foundation Gay Ski Week have chosen Crested Butte as their spring break destinations. It looks like we can expect March to be a busy month. Read More »

Carbon Conundrum: Part 5


“I don’t want to hear about the problem. Come to me when you have the solution,” a former boss used to say every time we squawked about our “problems.” Well, finally, we are talking CO2 solutions, after four weeks spent mired in the causes and effects—though you won’t find a silver bullet embedded in the story that follows. Read More »


A belated thank you from the fall     

    Happy Winter Solstice!  ‘Tis the season to be grateful and so I want to send a long overdue thank you to all who made and make Vinotok happen every year. Read More »