Growth rules in Ski Country | VailDaily.com

Growth rules in Ski Country

Matt Zalaznick

Hitting the brakes on growth in ski country is a concept driven by good intentions. But the proposed, nine-month ban on subdivisions in Eagle County ignores reality to the point of being a silly waste of time. Growth will be an irresistible force in Eagle County as long as the big ski mountains in Vail and Beaver Creek open for business every winter. Growth will be an irresistible force as long as those ski mountains are owned by a public corporation with money-mad shareholders for whom even maximum profit isn’t enough. Growth will be an irresistible force as long as Vail Resorts keeps amplifying its marketing and advertising campaigns, trying to lure ever more skiers to the world-famous Back Bowls and ever more tourists to the duck races in the summertime. Growth will be an irresistible force until Vail decides it doesn’t have to be No. 1 in SKI magazine’s resort rankings, until it decides No. 26 is OK. Growth will be an irresistible force for as long as it takes Vail Resorts to realize its dream of carving a Bavarian-style Disney World for the upper-class out of the national forest. A happier, shinier, snowier Disney World (with heated streets to melt the snow) means more time-shares and world-class hotels and restaurants and ice-skating rinks; which means more people to work at the time-shares and world-class hotels and restaurants and ice-skating rinks; which means homes for these people to live in and Wal-Marts where they can buy affordable groceries, shower curtains and car parts; which means sales taxes to pay the folks that plow their streets and police their neighborhoods and educate their children; which means places for the snowplow drivers, police officers and teacher to live and buy cheap groceries. So is the suburbanization of the Vail Valley all Vail Resorts’ fault? Absolutely not. This is not just a tourist town. It’s a tourist empire. So growth can be blamed on everyone who lives here, from the pioneers who staked out Vail Village in the early ’60s to this year’s batch of lifties and other seasonal workers seeking the wonder of ski country. Vail, from its inception, was an investment, a money-making scheme. The original investors weren’t fun-loving party animals bankrolling a wild ski town just for kicks. And once these pioneers realized what a great thing they had, they didn’t squelch the profit potential. They went ahead and opened the Back Bowls, Beaver Creek, Bachelor Gulch, Arrowhead, Blue Sky Basin, etc., etc. And all of us who have moved here since, and filled in the meadows from Edwards to Gypsum, have gone along with it. For all the big-box evil Wal-Mart and The Home Depot have brought us, for instance, it’s hard call them horrible when you see how crowded the stores are, and it’s even harder to revile these stores considering they’ve driven prices down at their local competitors and made life a little easier for those us single-home owners. So the clunkily titled “moratorium on up-zoning” proposed by Commissioners Arn Menconi and Peter Runyon seems a frivolous exercise in self-aggrandizing bureaucracy, a way for these two smalltown politicians to think of themselves of saviors of ski country. What they’re trying to save – a pastoral ski community – hasn’t existed in these parts for decades. Try Salida. The real way to stop growth is for all of us to decide we want our lives to be a little less convenient and put a few shopping centers out of business. The real way to stop growth would be for Vail Resorts to start scaring off vacationing families. Vail, Colorado