Vail Daily year in review, part 1
Vail, CO Colorado
Editor’s note: This is the first part of a three-part year in review.
VAIL – Eagle County’s biggest stories of 2010 ranged from a Target getting rejected by voters to a wilderness proposal advancing to Washington. Skiers rejoiced over great snow, and some of the valley’s best and brightest passed away.
Here’s a roundup of big news from 2010:
Development voted down
In January, Eagle voters rejected a proposal to build 552,000 square feet of commercial space with a Target, 581 condos and hotel on the east side of town. The project failed by a narrow margin.
Now, RED Development is considering reworking the plan. Representatives from the company have been holding community meetings to get feedback on the project.
Wolcott plan introduced
In April, an Edwards developer submitted to Eagle County a plan to build 2,000 homes – as well as stores, restaurants, offices and parks – in Wolcott on what are now mostly pastures.
The price tag for the new community, which would be built over 20 years, would perhaps approach $1 billion, said Rick Hermes, the developer.
The county review process could take years.
The 1,100 acres – which were sold by the Jouflases, a longtime local ranching family, to Hermes’ group – represents one of the last large parcels of undeveloped land on the valley floor.
Battle Mountain project shrinks
In July, developers of the Battle Mountain ski resort project between Minturn and Red Cliff said they were dramatically downsizing their proposal.
Plans no longer include a golf course or a large hotel on the property, and the amount of proposed commercial space was cut by two-thirds. The developer also plans to build far fewer homes than the 1,700 originally expected.
The downturn in the economy was one of the things that prompted the owner, Crave Real Estate, to scale back plans.
Plans for the resort have been in the works for five years. Florida developer Bobby Ginn bowed out of the project last year.
New Edwards chapel opens
In September, the new Edwards Interfaith Chapel was dedicated – the realization of a vision that founders had worked on for 16 years.
The Edwards Interfaith Chapel is home to four congregations – B’nai Vail Jewish Congregations, Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration, Mount of the Holy Cross Lutheran Church and Covenant Presbyterian Church.
The Eagle Valley Religious Foundation raised close to $10 million for the first phase of the building.
Wilderness proposal advances
In September, U.S. Rep. Jared Polis introduced a proposal to Congress that would provide some level of protection to nearly 170,000 acres of public land in Eagle and Summit counties.
Much of the land is proposed to be wilderness, which would outlaw forms of motorized vehicles, mountain bikes and several other activities in the areas.
Polis’ proposal came after a years-long campaign by the Hidden Gems coalition, which had aimed to protect 244,000 acres in Eagle and Summit counties.
Dirt bikers, four-wheel enthusiasts and mountain bikers had been concerned about parts of the proposal. Controversial portions of the proposal were eliminated from Polis’ bill, including the Lower Piney area north of Avon.
Local resorts rise in rankings
Vail was ranked No. 2 and Beaver Creek No. 4 in the annual SKI magazine rankings of the top ski resorts in North America, which was released in October.
While Vail failed to reclaim the No. 1 spot – where it has been ranked more times than not in the poll’s history – it rose one spot from its No. 3 position the previous year.
And Beaver Creek jumped to No. 4 this year, up from No. 5 last year.
Deer Valley, in Utah, took the top spot for the fourth year in a row.
Season opens with big snow
Great early-season snow allowed Vail Mountain to open with nine lifts and more than 1,000 acres Nov. 19. The openings of the Back Bowls and Blue Sky Basin quickly followed as the snow continued to fall.
Beaver Creek opened with 530 acres.
So far this ski season, Vail has gotten 171 inches of snow, and Beaver Creek has received 117 inches.
Earlier this month, Vail Mountain opened the new, high speed Chair 5, which serves Sun Up and Sun Down bowls. The chair cuts in half the ride time of the old, fixed-grip lift it replaces. With the old lift, skiers had complained about the long lines that formed at the chair on busy days in the Back Bowls.
Vail Resorts also introduced EpicMix, a new technology built into the Vail Resorts ski passes that can track how many vertical feet skiers conquer.
• Gerald Gallegos, a lifelong Eagle County resident and successful businessman who loved to give back to his community, died in August.
Gallegos started his masonry company, The Gallegos Corporation, in 1970. He was known for his high standards and vast knowledge of stonework and style. His company’s projects can be seen across the Vail Valley and the West.
He was well known for his giving and loved to help local kids. His philanthropic efforts ranged from the Vail Valley Foundation to the Youth Foundation to the Minturn Community Fund and Roundup River Ranch.
More than a thousand people gathered to remember him at a memorial service at Vail’s Ford Amphitheater.
• Andrew Claymon, 16, of Edwards, died in July. He fought a courageous 18-month battle with a rare form of cancer.
More than 700 people packed a memorial gathering for Andrew at Battle Mountain High School in Edwards, where he was a student.
• Jasper “Jaz” McGrath, 19, of Grand Marais, Minn., died in an avalanche outside a backcountry gate near Vail’s Blue Sky Basin in January. Joe McGrath said his brother died doing what he loved most.
“He basically lived for riding,” Joe McGrath said. “He didn’t care if he had money in his pocket or food in his stomach as long as he could snowboard.”
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