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Alpine City Council to study benefits of Olympic effort

Olympic fever is coming to this mountain community.

The City Council may name a committee to come up with ideas on how Alpine can benefit from the 2002 Winter Olympics, despite planning chairman Hunt Willoughby's assertion that "we should distance ourselves from a bad idea."Councilwoman Pheobe Blackham agreed to do the initial leg work in kicking off an Olympic effort for the city.

"We could do this here or elsewhere," she said. "We need to do something to bring us together as a community."

As for enticing people to come to Alpine to stay as a result of that effort, Blackham said, "Foreign people will go home (after the Olympics), and we don't have anything to entice them to come back."

"We could host some teams," Councilman Don Watkins said. "The Swiss ski team would be the most comfortable," he said, referring to Alpine's mountains.

On a related matter, Blackham said the city needed to raise revenue or face a potential tax increase. Alpine has no substantial commercial base from which it can generate sales taxes. She suggested the city host special events, such as mountain bike racing.

"We need to create revenue without bringing in commercial ventures using our natural resources," she said.

But Councilman Sheldon Wimmer noted that Alpine is closed in by U.S. Forest Service land where bicycles aren't allowed. But other locations may be possible, he said.

Councilman Mel Clement suggested rock concerts at Lambert Park, a wilderness park there.

"This is a beautiful place, but we have nothing to sell," said one resident.

"This will never be a commercial mecca, but the best way to raise money is to keep the costs down," Watkins said. Increased population is expensive and should be avoided, he said.

Other money-making suggestions were to encourage bed-and-breakfast enterprises, a community farm and even a skateboard park, although the latter could have liability concerns.

"It would need to be unique and low impact," Wimmer said.