Teri Orr: The slippery corporate slope | ParkRecord.com

Teri Orr: The slippery corporate slope

Teri Orr: The slippery corporate slope

Teri Orr

Park Record columnist Teri Orr.

The lilacs are incredibly fragrant this year. They don’t always have a full perfume that wafts in the afternoon air. The bleeding hearts have no discernible scent, but they are prolific now. “Ladies in a bathtub” – Sister Margo taught me all those years ago when she lived next door. One afternoon, she wandered into my yard and showed me how to take the heart and gently pull it apart and the tiny head and skinny body appeared, and instead of a heart -voila- a lady in a bathtub.

I love sleeping with my windows open now and hearing the night sounds and the birds with faith enough to sing before dawn.

It is not a time of year I usually associate with politics.

But there is big blooming news with the appeal before the City with citizen advocates/appellants against the multi-glomerate international corporation Vail Resorts or whatever their formal name is. For those of us here since the 70s, we watched the entitlements granted in the 90s. It was decades before we knew that back then when both resorts claimed the rights to one day sell off their parking lots or develop them themselves, we would be eventually paying the piper. PCMR and Deer Valley obtained the rights to develop their own parking lots …eventually. We just never saw the radical community growth coming, which would take away all the other parking possibilities. Back then, there were so many vacant dirt lots it was hard to imagine, impossible really, that everything else in that world of endless dirt lots nobody cared about could disappear. We didn’t envision the post-Olympic traffic and greed and that single-day lift tickets that would become what was the price of a couple of hotel nights.

The current contention –questions the overall capacity of the lifts and how their numbers were calculated, and by whom and when. It appears the thing has been out of compliance for years, decades really.

I am curious how the proposed upgrade/ adjustment/entirely new system of loading skiers from a unique bottom entry point- will affect the Eagle run/lift. The way I remember the creation of the run- is this – it was part of a race course created for the World Cup Ski races in the mid-’80s. I didn’t know that it had any separate name at first. The electronic mechanism -needed to time the racer’s finish- was malfunctioning, and it appeared -with all eyes and cameras on the course- we would be forced to cancel the race. And then, out of nowhere, an eagle came and flew down the course and thru the finish line, and that magic somehow triggered the system, and the race was able to happen. The following year it was formerly named the Eagle run/lift with a proper ceremony – As we did back then. Communications director, Mark Menlove, had been given an eagle feather he had tucked inside his jacket for the blessing. He made certain the sacred feather was returned to the native culture after he had it close to him for the naming of the space.

To reduce the sacred intent of that piece of land to an on-ramp to the corporate “mountain experience” hurts my heart. The reality this appeal has shown us- is the capacity is already over what was intended back in the 80s. And in increments, lifts and capacities have increased and grown beyond approvals and intentions of how guests should access the mountain experience.

In a historic old mining town, we talk about the ghosts rattling around in the tunnels underneath the spaces where our mining tunnels existed. I think of more recent ghosts- those elegant gentlemen/businessmen Nick Badami and Edgar Stern. I worry they are rolling around, shaking the ground at the erosion of the foundations of the family-orientated resorts they created. Both of those gentlemen had come to skiing late in their careers, where both had succeeded in the garment business (Sears Roebuck and BVD underwear). Nick Badami became the first CEO of a garment conglomerate- The Rapid American Corporation. Edgar Stern added Dean Whitter to his portfolio and hotels in New Orleans and the famed Stanford Court in San Francisco.

They first created useful things at affordable prices for families to enjoy. The current operators are more like robber barons who created conglomerates where the business of their business isn’t family recreation and enjoyment of nature so much as it is a backdrop to real estate development and stock market prominence.

There are still folks here who know the intention of those kind, wise, benevolent resort operators. We learned in the 90s that the parking lots would one day have buildings on them, but we thought re-creating parking spaces would happen easily on any of the multi-dozen undeveloped dirt lots all over town.

If ever there was a time for a Council of Elders, it is now. For folks who have lived here for decades to come together with their vast knowledge of why and how and intent and forward-thinking about planning. And they need to speak up. With little to gain or fear, they are in a rare position to speak the truth to corporate power. It is NOT too late to do and say the right thing. The appeal currently before the planning commission has far-reaching ramifications for resorts across the country and across the pond because let’s be honest- the current occupants who own resorts in Our Town own resorts in multiple locations in our country but also in Canada and Europe. This is BIG business- stock exchange big business. And the jungle drums are beating this week- globally- in the ski world- beating about this case in Park City, Utah. Eyes wide shut will be on us if we don’t come together and understand clearly the ramifications of what this appeal might mean.

Let’s help the planning commission have the tools they need to overturn the decision made arbitrarily, capriciously, and ill-researched by city staff.

Let this be the town that said- enough.

It can work -if we show up and stand up to soulless entities lobbying on the land where giants of men, who cared passionately about this community, once stood…

We know where the bones of the stories are buried because we carefully placed them there. And now we need to look at what has blossomed- a bleeding heart or a Lady in a Bathtub or a ski lift built for a few hundred people to ride in a day or thousands. Day after day. Either way, you see it- the same thing can change with the tiniest bit of imagination. Let’s help the planning commission remember what was planted where and why. You can write a letter to the city or show up and stand up and speak up at the planning meeting next Wednesday. Just don’t sit this one out in the days ahead. It matters for all the Sundays ahead in our Park….

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