Squaw Valley working on updated expansion proposal
Ryan Summerlin July 19, 2013
OLYMPIC VALLEY, Calif. — Squaw Valley is reworking its proposed 101.5-acre capital improvement plan for an expanded village.
The updated plan will take into account comments received at more than 200 meetings Squaw officials have held with local organizations, groups and individuals, said Chevis Hosea, vice president of development for Squaw Valley.
Further, feedback has been received from more than 1,500 people who have visited the expansion model set up at the resort’s village.
“Many groups in the Tahoe region have shown their willingness to engage in a community dialogue, and their voices will be reflected in the revisions of our plans,” Hosea said. “We are very thankful for their feedback and hope more groups will join our conversation.”
There is no release date for an updated plan, a Squaw spokesman said this week, and specific changes were not revealed.
The current plan, which outlines the addition of 1,093 lodging units, 47,000 square feet in commercial space and new amenities at the west end of Squaw Valley, has drawn criticism.
Sierra Watch recently came out against the proposal, citing concerns with its size and scope.
“It clearly doesn’t fit into Squaw Valley,” said Tom Mooers, executive director of the regional conservation organization based in Nevada City.
Similar concerns have been expressed by the Friends of Squaw Valley, a grassroots group of locals and longtime Olympic Valley residents.
“We acknowledge the existing village needs to grow and improve,” said Ed Heneveld, a member of the Friends of Squaw Valley steering committee and a 35-year Olympic Valley resident. “The … project as currently proposed would be too dense, too large and out of scale with the acreage available. … The end result would be an urbanized city, not a rural alpine village.”
In a statement, Sierra Watch said Squaw has long been appreciated as a great Sierra setting where natural scenery — its meadow and mountains — provides a unique sense of place.
Hosea countered that 95 percent of the proposed development would be on already “significantly disturbed areas,” most of which are surface parking lots.
“We find it surprising that Sierra Watch would voice its opposition to a sustainable, community-wide planning effort that would redevelop paved-over brownfields,” he said.
In the current proposal, parking would become covered in connection with proposed lodging additions — consisting of hotel rooms, condominium units and fractional ownership cabins.
Additional units would give resort-goers a chance to stay overnight, reducing the dependence on ski destination experience by car, Hosea said previously.
However, concerns regarding traffic, noise, light pollution and water availability, among others, persist.
“The (Friends of Squaw Valley) mission statement advocates for development that is environmentally sustainable, economically viable and aesthetically compatible with the existing community character and culture,” Heneveld said.
Mooers said better development plans are created when conservationists, developers and landowners come together.
“Our hope, whether immediately or in the long term, is (the resort) is open to changes that would really create the best possible plan we can come up with for Squaw Valley,” Mooers said.
A draft Environmental Impact Report is currently being prepared. The project is proposed in four phases, and is estimated to take between 12 and 15 years to complete.
To learn more about the project, visit www.squawrenaissance.com.