Beaver Creek slide may pack the room
EAGLE COUNTY ” A summertime ride that doesn’t exist yet will create a packed room and hours of debate in Eagle Monday afternoon.
The room in this case is the Eagle County Commissioners chambers. The people filling the seats will be homeowners from Beaver Creek, appealing a decision that would let Vail Resorts build an alpine slide on land near the Haymeadow ski lift.
Vail Resorts wants the slide to draw more families to the Beaver Creek during the summer. Many home owners believe the slide’s noise and appearance isn’t appropriate for the resort in which they invested.
“Beaver Creek is not meant to be an amusement ride,” homeowner Bernie Scharf said.
Scharf, who has helped organize opposition to the slide from 10 homeowners associations at Beaver Creek, said an alpine slide is defined as an “amusement” ride by state regulators.
“Beaver Creek is a ski resort,” he said. “It’s meant to have hiking and biking paths for the summer.”
Scharf’s group has hired an attorney to fight the slide. So has the larger Beaver Creek Property Owners Association, which is opposed to the slide for virtually the same reasons as Scharf’s group.
“An alpine slide just is not compatible with Beaver Creek’s environment,” said Tom Schouten, president of the Beaver Creek Property Owners Association.
While opposition to the slide is apparently widespread among property owners, the scope of Monday’s hearing will be pretty narrow.
At issue is a county ruling on a grading permit for the slide. County officials this summer granted Vail Resorts a permit to start earth work for the slide, based on a ruling that the slide is allowed in the legal documents that specify what can be built there.
Opponents beg to differ.
An appeal filed by Schouten’s group refers to a 1988 document regulating land use at Beaver Creek. That document allows alpine slides. But a 1994 update of the earlier document doesn’t include alpine slides.
“Our opinion is that it came out on purpose,” Schouten said.
With both homeowners groups bringing lawyers to Monday’s meeting, Vail Resorts probably will, too.
“About all I can say is we’re prepared for an appeal,” said John Garnsey, chief operating officer for Beaver Creek.
This probably will be just the first appeal, no matter which side prevails in Eagle Monday.
“We want the county commissioners to do the right thing,” Scharf said. “But we’re going to do whatever it takes to make sure it’s not here.”
Schouten said he hopes the case doesn’t end up in court.
“Litigation is the end result if nothing gets solved,” he said. “And nothing has been proposed that would solve this.”
What might solve the dispute is if Vail Resorts put the slide elsewhere on the ski hill. But unlike the Haymeadow area, which the resort company owns, other potential locations for the slide would be on land owned by the U.S. Forest Service.
Garnsey wouldn’t talk about possible options for a slide.
“If other options don’t seem feasible, we’d go with this one,” he said.
“This is a big issue for both sides,” Schouten said. “The losing party is not going to take it sitting still.”
Staff Writer Scott N. Miller can be reached at 748-2930, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Vail Daily, Vail Colorado
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