Telski CEO Chuck Horning’s current yammering about economic “sustainability” is impossible for me to understand. As one might expect from a real estate developer – by definition one who works to drive up the sale price of property – I believe he simply uses the word sustainability, with its fuzzy feel, in place of “profitability.”
Unlike the “Lost People” of Mountain Village, we Telluriders hold “sustainability” to refer to the sum of practices required to keep the planet’s air breathable and its oceans within their banks. And if we are to sustain this planet, Telluriders have learned, whatever some real estate speculator wants, humans should consider doing the opposite.!
Luxury recreational travel may exist for some decades more, but it is one of the most selfishly air-fouling activities our species practices. Doesn’t that make Telski one of planet’s most dangerous entities? Doesn’t that mean humans should try to shrink Telski’s business? Isn’t this saying that whatever Mr. Horning wants for his company, whether more subsidies or continued favorable policy, Town of Telluride officials should resist with all their might?
Mr. Horning could emerge as hero, I suppose, if he decided to champion Earth’s sustainability. He could supplant the region’s current brand of tourism – realty tourism or Come for a Night, Stay a Lifetime tourism – with ecotourism. It’s a simple decision, really: greed versus dignity. I’ve already handed him all the how-to guidelines we generated from Telluride’s first ecotourism symposium, held in 1994, when international experts and regional land managers assembled here and decided Telluride had the perfect opportunity to become the leader in first world green tourism.
He could stop asking Telluriders to pay for flying his customers here, and then coordinate handing over the Telluride airport to what remains of the pro-growth lobby, as a private gig. Many here believe the facility was always better justified as a way for realtors to close luxury property deals in Mountain Village, Colorado, south of Telluride. We’ve been told forever that TRA was built for 37-50 seat airplanes, the same fuel-ish craft that are now being mothballed left and right. Furthermore, if there’s one activity more damaging than recreational air travel, it’s paying a company to fly empty seats somewhere. Ever hear of the Maldives?
Along with eliminating the airline guarantee program (that money could go to solar projects, for instance), Mr. Horning could refuse to accept the millions of dollars Telluride officials mindlessly funnel his way annually in the form of lodging taxes, sales taxes and business license fees. It should trouble us greatly that public money is used to prop up a place positioned as a mecca for rich folks who can’t bring themselves to believe in man-caused climate change. If we champion the place, we champion the premise. To our shame.
Mr. Horning would be a semi-hero if he simply marketed Mountain Village separately, and let the historic mining town of Telluride do its summer thing. The impossible pairing of these two opposite value systems has confused the public and paralyzed Telluride officials for 30 years; surely a divorce is in order.
As a further service to potential visitors, this old NYC advertising guy will even volunteer to help the two destinations differentiate themselves from each other. Maybe stuff like Telluride: the funky hideaway that grew 7-11 percent per year in the Seventies, on $5,000/year, up until Mountain Village came along, perverted our cache with its Awakening Giant anthem and its horrid, computer-generated logo, and doomed our occupancy rates. Telluride: still a place of free-thinkers, who now want to reclaim their reputation as an alternative destination, a real community with outstanding values, the opposite of places like Mountain Village, Colorado. Telluride: a town of 2,500 which raised $55,000,000 to buy some wetlands and fields in order to protect them from, well, places like Mountain Village, Colorado.
And then we’d need some Mountain Village promotion. OK. Mountain Village, star of an award-winning short film (dislocation and soullessness were the plot lines). Mountain Village, the only Rockies destination where 100 percent of its would-be signature hotels proved to be humongous eyesores and went bankrupt. Mountain Village, where you can vote—let’s say to make life more onerous for the poor – even if you don’t live there. Mountain Village, where wetlands were illegally sacrificed for golf course design, generating the second largest EPA fine in the history of the Western Slope.
Or maybe the following is the only differentiation incoming guests need for their where-to-bunk decision: Mountain Village – and the Telluride Ski & Golf Company – proudly opposed to Telluride’s acquisition and preservation of an important, threatened ecosystem, our Valley Floor.
– Romey Glenn, Telluride