"Front Door’ still be to fiddled with | VailDaily.com

"Front Door’ still be to fiddled with

Christine Ina Casillas
This is an artist's computerized drawing of Vail Resorts' plans to redesign the ski yard around the Vista Bahn Express chairlift. The ski company and neighbors are wrangling over some aspects of the plan.

An extensive plan to redesign the base of Vail Mountain is being refined and tinkered with – and causing frustration – as it gets closer to reality.

While Vail has reduced the scope of aspects of the plan known as the “Front Door” project, neighbors whose homes overlook the Vista Bahn chairlift say a new “skier services” building envisioned for the ski yard is still too big.

Vail resident Steve Wright said he and some of his fellow owners don’t want a large structure in front of them, and therefore asked for a sunroof-style building because the proposed design was “too close and too high.”

And at a recent presentation of the plan in Vail Town Hall, neighbor Luanne Wells said she was “very concerned about the size of the building” and has proposed an alternative design more amenable to neighbors.

Wells and Wright both said the building will block the mountain and will block their views of the open meadows.

“(Vail Resorts) needs to take into consideration the summer and winter activities,” Wells said. “(Our plan) is just a thought to make you think of alternatives, to think of something that will work and make this a wonderful front door to Vail.”

Vail Resorts has already agreed once to make the proposed building smaller when it was brought before Vail’s Planning and Environmental Commission – a board that reviews development projects for the town.

“There was some concern with the design,” said Tom Braun, a developer for Vail Resorts, Inc. “We all want the same thing. We all want the ski yard that functions the same in the summer and winter.”

Vail Resorts made adjustments to the main level floor plan for the skier service building and revised the plans for the Vista Bahn park and how a ski race can be staged.

“A subtle change has taken place (with the design),” Braun said. “We had to ask, “How can we make this whole thing work well?'”

The staging of the ski races will not overlap on the hard service area, he said. A proposed bleacher area will be entirely on the snow area.

“During the summer season, we needed to look at the kind of space we’ll have for activities because there isn’t much going on in the summer,” he said.

The Vista Bahn chairlift will be moved farther up the hill, he said, making room for a potential stage area for a concert venue and other summer events.

Vail Resorts designer Jay Peterson said the existing skier service building in Vail Village isn’t working well because it can’t accommodate all the skiers and snowboarders on the mountain.

“At some point, the building can simply get too small,” Peterson said.

Despite the adjustments, some commission members still expressed concern about the size of the skier service yard, saying that even with the smaller building the ski yard would have trouble accommodating daily winter skier traffic and hosting ski races.

“The outward appearance (for the concert) area looks similar, and my gut feeling tells me that it’s very close (to the original proposal),” planning commissioner John Scholfield said.

Karen Romeo, an attorney representing Wells, also said the changes didn’t go far enough.

“I am really disturbed by this,” Romeo said. “It takes up one third of the Vista Bahn Plaza area that will go to the skier service building. I still think it’s much too big for this area.”

Christine Ina Casillas can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 607 or at ccasillas@vaildaily.com.

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