‘Forest Flyer’ coming to Beaver Creek soon?
May 17, 2013
BEAVER CREEK — Vail Resorts seems ready to head ever-so-slightly west with some of the summer fun planned for Vail Mountain.
The resort company has plans for a "Forest Flyer," a kind of gravity-powered mountain coaster, at Beaver Creek. In addition, the company plans to build a "ropes challenge course" and a summer tubing hill. All those improvements will be built at the top of the Buckaroo Gondola, which in the winter is the resort's headquarters for kids and families.
The plans have some Beaver Creek property owners concerned that the resort company will intrude on the peace and quiet they enjoy in the summer. That worry first surfaced in 2006, when Vail Resorts proposed an "alpine slide" for private land in the Haymeadow area, private property just uphill from Beaver Creek Village.
That plan — which was eventually shelved — pitted property owners against the resort company and led to vows of legal action against Vail Resorts. At the time, litigation was seen by property owners as their only recourse in an attempt to stop the slide.
Since the Haymeadow area is on private land, it is subject to review by Eagle County, not the U.S. Forest Service. At the time the slide was proposed, county officials determined that the slide was a "use by right," which required the county only to approve a building permit — with approval based on the project meeting county building standards.
Bob Narracci, head of the Eagle County Community Development Department, said that's the case with the current plan. That means Vail Resorts needs only to apply for building permits and needs no other approvals.
But there seem to be a couple of key differences between this plan and the 2006 plan.
First, company officials are adamant that a "Forest Flyer" is different than an "alpine slide."
And Don Dressler, who handles winter recreation in the area for the White River National Forest, said there is a significant difference. Whereas an alpine slide runs in a concrete channel built along the ground, a "forest flyer" is built on an above-ground steel frame, which is purportedly more quiet.
The other difference between the 2006 plan and the current one is location.
Beaver Creek spokeswoman Jen Brown said these forest improvements will be built higher up the hill, roughly between Beaver Creek Stables and Allie's Cabin.
"We're putting additional activities in an area where we already have activities in the winter," Brown said. And, Brown said, Beaver Creek Stables already operates in the summers in the area planned for the new attractions.
"It's up above and in the trees," Brown said.
The Beaver Creek Design Review Board is meeting today at 1:30 p.m. at the Seasons building in Avon, and the summer plans are on the agenda. But, Brown said, that group will only look at landscaping plans and has no power to take any other action on the topic.
Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2939 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.