Can town handle mega-home?
KETCHUM, Idaho – Ketchum recently was the site of a conference devoted to maintaining sustainable communities. While sustainability has been justified for everything under the sun, in this context it was about reducing environmental impacts.After hearing former Aspen-area resident Hunter Lovins talk, one of the audience members, Steve Hogan, a restaurateur, was motivated to write an op-ed piece for the Idaho Mountain Express.Noting the construction of a 30,000-square-foot house near Ketchum this year, he said it makes “absolutely no sense that we even consider allowing these types of non-sustainable homes in our high-desert valley.” He added that builders, architects, and contractors he spoke with seemed to agree in their dislike of such extravagance, but that they must listen to what their customers want.It’s not just a matter of private property rights, he went on to explain, but also of public pollution. “Consider that the average home produces three times more pollution than the average car,” he said. “Now multiply that times a home that’s 15 to 20 times larger than the average one.”He urged Ketchum and its suburbs consider mimicking the Green Points program adopted 15 years ago in the university city of Boulder, Colo.Want adventure? Try the busGUNNISON – In terms of getting from point A to point B, buses cost less than any other type of fuel-burning transportation. Ditto for the environmental impact. Cars, planes – none produce less pollution, assuming average riderships.Still, few people ride buses any more, other than students, the elderly and immigrants. Greyhound increasingly confines its routes to those linking bigger cities, bypassing the more out-of-the-way rural areas.Among those out-of-the-way rural areas is Gunnison, near Crested Butte. Lately, local transportation officials have discussed subsidizing bus operations as they already do for airlines. But it could cost $80 per passenger in subsidy, according to the estimate of Scott Can , director of the Gunnison Valley Rural Transportation Association.The agency has $950,000 in tax revenues to spend, and it spends $750,000 in airlines. Of course, people flying from Houston to go skiing can be expected to drop a chunk of change, unlike bus riders.Vail, Colorado