Letters to the Editor
Vail CO, Colorado
Gondola’s not for skiers
Living in Avon, I’ve been watching the construction on the Riverfront Express gondola since things began last fall. The realization of the gondola’s presence didn’t fully sink in until while riding my bike along Highway 6 I glanced up and saw the newly placed cable cars painted: “Riverfront Resort,” dangling suspiciously overhead. I couldn’t help but shout out “Good-God-ola”
I’ve had little respect for the expensive cable car that proposes to carry skiers across the Eagle River to dump them off at the base of the Lower Beaver Creek Express lift not even 100 feet above the normal Beaver Creek Bear Lot free parking area.
Perhaps I’m just a little bitter because I don’t own a condo in Avon that skyrocketed $100,000 because of the introduction of the new “ski-in, ski-out” Westin Riverfront Village and gondola.
From a developer, or property owner’s viewpoint, the gondola is a great idea. People selling condos can now use the highly marketable phrase, “Direct access to Beaver Creek Ski Area from Avon” to command half-million-dollar price tags for their two-bedroom, two-bath homes in Avon.
From a local skier’s and renter’s point of view the gondola just seems like a waste of money. Local hardcore skiers and snowboarders would certainly get more use out of a T-bar to the top of the Y Chutes or another lift in the far reaches of Royal Elk Glade.
The harsh reality is that resort planners will likely build a gondola from Edwards to Arrowhead before improving lift access to the Beav’s black diamond terrain. Resort planning in the 21th century is all about property value, not ski value. Instead of asking the question, “where can we put in a new ski lift to get better access up to new terrain?” Developers more often think, “where can we put a ski lift to get better access to a bunch of condos?” Or better yet let’s build a bunch of condos and then build a ski lift from there. To me these are scary thoughts for the future of ski resort development.
With the Riverfront Gondola’s success I’m sure there will be many more gondolas to nowhere proposed at ski areas throughout North America. Who knows what sly property-value-enhancing ideas may stem from big-spending Colorado ski resort developers like Bobby Ginn and Red McCombs, who’ve likely have never skied a black diamond slope.
Surely the 10th Mountain Division skiers that founded Vail Mountain would have been baffled by a proposal of a ski gondola with minimal elevation gain and access to zero skiable acres!
OK, enough babbling on resort development. The gondola’s built, and it did its intended job of ballooning neighboring property values. It’s too late now, you’ll never get that condo in Avon Crossing for 350k any more.
One local advantage is that the Riverfront Resort Village is a good place to direct tourists to, keeping them off of the good part of Beaver Creek Mountain. Being a true local snowboader who will call in sick and ride Grouse Mountain on a powder day, I feel that I owe it to myself and other Avon locals to test the true skier-moving capacity of the new gondola compared to other free transportation methods.
With this said, I’m proposing a timed race from Avon Center to Beaver Creek’s Grouse Mountain.
She knew it was coming
Saw your story the other day about the psychic’s zoning troubles in Vail. Puts me in mind of Madame Marie’s in Asbury Park and that great line from Bruce Springsteen’s “Fourth of July”: “Did you hear the cops finally busted Madame Marie for telling fortunes better than they do?”
Of course, I’m sure she knew it was coming, too.
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