Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Mountain Town News


Squaw Valley owners face local pushback
    TRUCKEE, Calif. – Plans to dramatically redevelop Squaw Mountain to make it much more like most of the West’s destination ski resorts have been facing community pushback.
    “The massiveness of the project—it’s going to cover every available inch of land they own with something, some sort of structure,” Judy Carini, a 37-year resident of Squaw Valley, told Moonshine Ink.
    Denver-based KSL Capital Partners, composed primarily of former ski company executives at Vail, bought the resort in 2010. With Andy Wirth, former general manager of Steamboat, at the helm of operations in Squaw, they vowed to invest $50 million in the resort in the next three to five years.
    But in addition to on-mountain improvements, the company wants to significantly expand the number of lodges at the base and other attractions, to diversify the reasons that people would want to visit Squaw.
    In the process, KSL wants to convert Squaw from a day ski area bulging with customers on winter weekends into a resort that expands but also spreads out the business through the week—and through the year.
    KSL’s original plan called for buildings up to 10 stories high, dwarfing the existing four-story buildings. Since then, the company has reduced the maximum height of its tallest buildings to six stories, or 95 feet, about the same as the new wave of buildings in Vail, and downscaled the shorter buildings, too.
    All this paring has reduced Squaw’s plans to 2,184 new bedrooms, a nearly 50 percent drop compared to the original proposal.
    However, KSL continues to plunge forward with its plans to expand the amusements beyond skiing. The central new attraction would be something called the Mountain Adventure Center, which is designed to draw visitors during summer, especially. It would include a swimming pool and possibly slides and ziplines, all of this in a 132,000-square-foot building.
    Also in the cards is something called the Timberline Twister, a bobsled-like roller coaster.
    These and other changes would help Squaw draw people for multi-day stays, lessening their impacts on the environment, company representatives said at a recent meeting covered by the Sierra Sun.
    “We’re trying to reduce that dependence on our ski destination experience by car, so as to compete with the top alpine destinations,” said Chevis Hosea, vice president of development for Squaw Valley.
    “I am really worried about changing this to a Disneyland resort with nothing for the locals,” said Ed Heneveld, identified as a 30-year Squaw resident.

New lifts a vote for future of Whistler
    WHISTLER, B.C.—Owners of Whistler Blackcomb have pulled the trigger on an $18 million investment in two new lifts at the ski area.
    Dave Brownlie, chief executive for the resort, told Whistler’s Pique Newsmagazine that it’s part of the strategy of the resort to grow business, which last year had 2.1 million winter visitors and 500,000 in summer.
    “We’d like to get this place to over 3 million visitors in winter and summer,” he said. “There’s no question investments like these bring more people here.”
    A local hotelier, Jim Douglas, general manager of Pan Pacific hotels, called it “wonderfully powerful news for our community. They wouldn’t be spending money if they didn’t think they were going to get it back.”

Park City would like to spread the wealth
    PARK CITY, UTAH—While Aspen continues to work diligently to hang onto the X Games each January, Park City remains vigilant about its ties to the Sundance Film Festival.
    The 11-day festival draws all the cinema crowd from across the country and film critics from the major newspapers, not to mention Paris Hilton and her entourage. It fills up the town.
    The Park Record says town leaders would prefer that the festival was rescheduled, so that it didn’t overlap with Martin Luther King weekend. As it is, skiers who might otherwise come find Park City’s pews already filled.
    But Sundance likes the current schedule, so that it can be the first major film festival of the year.

South Lake Tahoe bags ban on plastic
    SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif.—South Lake Tahoe almost certainly will not join the 55 cities and five counties in California that have restricted the distribution of plastic shopping bags, reports the Tahoe Daily News.
    The three elected officials at a recent municipal meeting all shared concerns about the effect of a ban, including the worry that reusable bags are hard to clean and can spread food-borne illnesses.
    However, a recent poll in nearby Truckee shows strong public support for a ban, says the Sierra Sun.

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