Some unhappy property owners in that paradise known as Beaver Creek last week painted the Apocalypse of amusement parks against a backdrop of fiery aspens and blue sky.
Heavy with loaded words — Roller coaster! Amusement park! Not suitable! — spokespeople conjured up images of an Elitch Gardens tragically dominating the view of the ski mountain from a peninsula of condos on the east side of the village.
A poster representation on a tripod of the coaster track implied a view outside the back door at the Greystone complex that lacked only the loop de doos from a Six Flags ride, and that a substantial part of the wonderful aspen grove up the hill would be clear cut to make it happen.
At a press conference where three journalists were surrounded by property owners, the poster in particular was emblematic.
In reality, you won’t see much of the track even from these condos, never mind the rest of Beaver Creek’s residences. After all, the point is flying through a forest, and so the track will follow a narrow path through the grove, which is a couple of football fields up the hill.
And the folks who run the resort actually did listen enough to property owners to move the slide up the hill and away from the original plan to end at the base of the mountain, near the Centennial Lift.
Not that anyone at the conference was giving Vail Resorts any credit for anything. They are pure evil, don’t you know? And that’s just not what you do these days when trying to fend off something you don’t like.
I understand The NIMBY Guide to the Universe specifically states that you must fully demonize your opponent. No redeeming qualities can be allowed to seep into the message. Step on their neck if you can. Exaggerate, exaggerate and exaggerate some more is the fundamental PR push here.
And so the property owners convinced themselves that the evil ones haven’t even gotten EPA approval for a ropes course that will run near a seasonal creekbed. Never mind that Beaver Creek doesn’t need such approval because they aren’t going to build in any wetlands. Great herring, though.
The property owners also apparently have convinced themselves that Vail Resorts has been sneakily conspiring to do what the company could just do straight up anyway on their land in some weird conspiracy to … what, exactly? It kind of lacks that Ludlum thrill, or logic once you think about it for five seconds.
That morning, the spokespeople and audience groaned at the environmental scarring in store for pristine Beaver Creek, along with the thought of ugly poles supporting a ropes challenge course in the trees. As they huffed, I looked at the nearby chairlift apparatus including, ahem, ugly poles, and wide ski runs long ago cut through the forest that this day was just spectacular.
The really, really hard part for the property owners is this: Even if their darkest thoughts and fears of Vail Resorts all were absolutely true, they’d still have a hard time scraping up much sympathy for their plight.
After all, they moved next to a resort. Winter is louder and busier than summer, and always will be, even with those terrible sounds of children having a blast perhaps wafting down as far as the end units at Greystone.
Beaver Creek did a pretty good job of tweaking their plans for summer amenities that will make the place more fun for the visitors who make the resort work and bring more life to the business district.
As in Vail, there is a quite natural tension between property owners, who like their peace, and the resort and businesses under pressure to keep their enterprises profitable.
Of course, that tension extends to pretty much all ski resorts, beach resorts and other destinations, domestic and international. I grew up in Hawaii and was lucky enough to spend early adulthood mainly in Santa Barbara, where all this also plays out.
One nice lady at the press conference asked me if I’d like a roller coaster next to my house. Well, maybe not (though knowing me, maybe heck yeah!). We chose a home that backs up to BLM wildland, not a ski run or even a neighborhood, which I find far more repellent.
The operative word here being … chose.
The Vail Daily doesn’t yet see fit to compensate me to the Beaver Creek lifestyle I’m sure I so richly deserve. But we could have squeezed into something tight in Vail, had we desired that.
Not only am I not Beaver Creek material, other than loving to snowboard there, there is no shortage of far more private places with great beauty to settle in around here.
Take me. I live on 18 acres of pasture, a lovely creek and a mix of pinion pine and juniper where the land rises with a gypsum cliff onto a mesa to the east. To afford this nature’s bounty and pretty much my own private running trail, our residence is one crappy cabin that we’re oh so slowly turning into a cottage.
Yo, any Beaver Creek property owner who truly cannot abide the coaster and so on, have I got a deal for you.
Tell you what. I’ll trade you straight up if you’re really so sure that your property value will plummet. I can guarantee you beauty and privacy — and not a chance of Elitch coming here.
I’m not holding my breath for any takers. Meantime, the latest litigation will play out. The amusements will be built. Property values will ... rise.
And all this “utter catastrophe” will be forgotten very quickly. Just as we see regularly in Vail.
Editor and Publisher Don Rogers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and 970-748-2920.
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