Vail Daily column: Not a balanced viewpoint
October 23, 2013
The Beaver Creek Property Owners Association wants to clarify numerous inaccuracies included in Don Rogers' opinion column "Let's trade my place for yours," Oct. 11. While we respect his right to pen his opinions, he is not entitled to distort the facts.
Describing the Forest Flyer as a roller coaster is not semantics. Webster's dictionary defines a roller coaster as an elevated railway constructed with sharp curves and steep inclines on which cars roll. This expansive metal structure would consist of ½ mile steel track, 2,500 feet of safety fencing and nearly 3,000 feet of structural metal, some of it almost 35 feet off the ground. It's a roller coaster.
The technical artist rendering we created to show how the ride will actually look (versus the slick images Vail Resorts provides of smiling parents and children swooshing through trees) was created with specifications from the actual site plan Vail Resorts provided to the Design Review Board. The rendering is based on the German coaster manufacturer's own elevation plans and shows the exact height and placement of the proposed alpine roller coaster.
Rogers accurately called the rendering nothing short of a Six Flags ride because that is exactly what it will look like, hence the neighbors' dissatisfaction with it. To ensure accuracy, we even added the 92 trees Vail Resorts proposes in its landscape plan. This plan is woefully short in replacing the 350 mature aspens that Vail Resorts will cut down. Once again, the number of trees estimated to be removed was based on the clearance requirements specified by coaster's manufacturer and a physical hand count through the proposed coaster path. We aren't making this up.
We question why the Vail Daily chose not to publish the technical artist rendering of the roller coaster when other local, regional and national media including the Denver Post, Associated Press and dozens of other media outlets took the opposite approach. Even Beaver Creek COO Doug Lovell admits the rendering is accurate; he just doesn't like that it was done from the vantage point at the base of the ride, where the visual impact is the most unsightly. But it won't be much better for the homes located a mere 550 feet away from the eyesore. (Readers can view the rendering at http://www.BCPOA.com or by liking "Stop Beaver Creek Amusement Park" on Facebook.)
This is not just of concern to property owners, but also visitors to Beaver Creek who are attracted to its natural beauty and unique character of the landscape. This isn't just our backyard, it's the front yard of Beaver Creek; the visible face of the mountain that everyone sees and which defines the character of the area. This project will change the social and environmental fabric of Beaver Creek, forever.
At least in Breckenridge and Vail, as proposed, Vail Resorts had the common sense to place the roller coasters in areas away from homes and out of view of residents. With the proposed amusement park, Beaver Creek would be the only world-class ski resort in the country with a roller coaster at its front door near homes.
If Rogers were to go down to the area Vail Resorts plans for the high ropes course, then he would indeed find stakes demarking a stream and wetlands. And it is true that Vail Resorts had not contacted the EPA or U.S. Army Corps of Engineers about permits, but the BCPOA has been contacted and these agencies are going to be evaluating whether permits are in fact necessary.
Vail Resorts hadn't even bothered to contact Colorado Open Lands, the entity that holds the conservation easement on the land in which they propose building the amusement park to discuss their plan. In fact the Colorado Open Lands executive director was quoted as saying, "That would be the first proposal we've ever had like that," when asked about a coaster on a conservation easement.
The Vail Daily, which is supposed to serve readers throughout the entire valley, could have presented a more balanced view on the impacts the roller coaster will have on the natural trail popular with bikers, hikers, snowshoers, etc. But that would take a viewpoint different from Vail Resorts, a major advertiser of the newspaper.
Many of our members are the original investors in this beautiful resort area. And, yes, we have a personal interest in seeing that property values are not adversely impacted. But beyond that, we have an emotional connection and love for this community and that's worth fighting for.
Tim Maher is president of the Beaver Creek Property Owners Association and principal author of this column. Co-authors include Barry Parker, vice president; Dave Eickholt, treasurer; Dawn Friedman, past president; and Thomas Schouten, past president.