Homeowners’ concerns about Golden Peak
In the past, Vail Resorts and Ski & Snowboard Club Vail have hosted a number of race events at Golden Peak. The club also has rented out the facilities to visiting groups. Rental income funds operational expenses, and if sufficient in the future, will be used to provide scholarships. With new and much improved facilities, it can only be anticipated that race events and rentals to other clubs and organizations will increase. The prospects of increased use of the new Golden Peak facilities need to be addressed, so that it does not contribute to congestion in the Golden Peak area.
The only access to these facilities will be via Chair 6, which is already a congested area. In addition to the general public using Chair 6 for access to the mountain, the children’s ski school, DEVO and an adult ski school all congregate in this area. Adding to the congestion, all racers, coaches and other ski personnel and all related gear will have to assemble at the Golden Peak base. When races are conducted, the contestants will have to merge into the general skier population to access Chair 6. Again, this is outside the scope of the project, but VHA believes that a proper holistic approach requires that Chair 6 congestion issues must be considered and addressed.
Aside from congestion at Chair 6, vehicular traffic in the Golden Peak area already exceeds capacity, even after DEVO drop-off was moved to the Vail parking structure. And, the town’s parking facilities are already stressed, resulting in ever increasing use of Frontage Road parking with its attendant public safety issues, especially on weekends when events take place. There does not appear to be any provision in the project for mitigating these effects. They should not be ignored or simply left to the town of Vail to be dealt with. Once again, a proper holistic approach requires that these issues be considered and addressed.
It is anticipated that the club will have substantial say in how the facilities are managed, probably through an operating agreement with Vail Resorts, although there is no such agreement in place at the present time. Ski & Snowboard Club Vail has, however, represented that if the new facilities are constructed, then it will no longer need to use Cookshack, Whippersnapper, Black Forest, Giant Steps or other trails outside of this new facility, thereby, freeing those trails for use by the general public. This beneficial effect of the project should be specifically spelled out, as a condition of approval.
The U.S. Forest Service is in the process of preparing an environmental impact statement. That document will consider the impact of the proposed facilities on the environment as well as any “social” issues that are brought to its attention during the comment period. “Social” issues are understood to encompass the impact of this project on the surrounding area and the community. While such issues will be addressed in the environmental impact statement, they will only be addressed if they are raised in the comment period. In other words, if you remain silent, then any concerns or objections you have may not be addressed in the statement.
The Vail Homeowners Association has several concerns about this project that it believes should be addressed as part of the EIS and before any approvals are issued:
• Drainage and sub-soil stability for both the project area and the lower portions of Golden Peak must be carefully managed to avoid erosion and mud flows, and there should be specific attention to the disposition of excess water. Merely draining excess water into the adjacent forest can have significant consequences. The proposal states that there will be drainage management infrastructure but is silent on how or where the excess water will be disposed of. These matters should be addressed.
• Any approval of these facilities should require specific steps to mitigate congestion, both at Chair 6 and in the surrounding roadways and community. For example, all race and race training personnel could be required to park remotely, similar to what was done with DEVO; bus-only transportation to Chair 6 could be required, and there could be a designated base area for those individuals.
• There should be specific provisions to separate race contestants and training activities from the general public in the finish area adjacent to Chair 6. At a minimum, protective barriers, staggered fencing and designated pathways to funnel participants to Chair 6 at normal slow speeds must be required.
If you share these concerns or have other concerns or objections to this project — whether they be about the aesthetic effects of clear cuts on Golden Peak, increased congestion and parking issues in the Golden Peak area, or any other kind of issue — then it is imperative that you make your views known to the Forest Service. The Association urges affected parties to become involved and forward their comments to the U.S. Forest Service by no later than May 1. Contact information to submit concerns is available on the VHA website, http://www.vailhomeowners.com.
The Vail Homeowners Association Board is Gail Ellis, president; Judith Berkowitz, secretary; Rob Ford, treasurer; and directors Jamie Duke, John Gorsuch, John Lohre, Andres Nevares, Trygve Myhren, Larry Stewart and Doug Tansill.
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