Clock is ticking for Squaw Valley expansion input | Sierra Sun editorial | SierraSun.com

Clock is ticking for Squaw Valley expansion input | Sierra Sun editorial

OLYMPIC VALLEY, Calif. — Predictably, the war of words is escalating between supporters and skeptics of the multi-acre development proposal for the Village at Squaw Valley.

On one side, there has been at-times vehement criticism against the project, its likely negative impacts to the valley's fragile environment and the perception that Squaw Valley Ski Holdings and Squaw Valley Real Estate — and, by way of investor interest, Denver-based KSL Capital Partners — are interested in profit first, and community last.

Those types of comments were uttered by several residents and Sierra Watch reps at the public meeting in late June before the Placer County Planning Commission. The Placer County Board of Supervisors will ultimately decide to accept or throw out the project's final environmental impact report.

On the other side, Squaw Valley CEO Andy Wirth and others are touting the project's potential grand impact to the Tahoe-Truckee tourism economy — which stands to benefit greatly if the company is allowed to develop a year-round destination resort that could be compared to what Vail Resorts has created in Vail, Colo. — and a level of perhaps unprecedented community outreach in preparing the plan.

Wirth and others also are vocal about people understanding fact versus fiction. For example, Wirth penned a guest column published Thursday in the Auburn Journal that responds to one published a week earlier in the same newspaper from Tom Mooers, executive director of Sierra Watch.

To make a long story short, Mooers criticized the project (which he's done often) while stretching the truth in places and writing some nonfactual items (such as alleging the Mountain Adventure Center would be 10 stories high), and Wirth countered with frustrations that "Sierra Watch has once again chosen to deviate from the truth and is purposefully misleading the public," by issuing a statement that "is patently false and purposefully stated in a manner so as to mislead and elicit fear."

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So what does this all mean? Not much, really, other than some white noise being added to an emotionally fueled fire.

What does matter, however, is that as of right now, there is only a week left for anyone to submit comments for, against or indifferent to Placer County regarding the project's draft environmental impact report.

Comments should be mailed to Placer County Community Development Resource Agency, Environmental Coordination Services, 3091 County Center Drive, Suite 190, Auburn, CA 95603, Attention: Maywan Krach; faxed to 530-745-3080; or emailed to cdraecs@placer.ca.gov.

The deadline is 5 p.m. July 17. After that, Placer County will work to incorporate feedback into a final environmental impact report, to be released for public review at a to-be-determined date.

Currently, we feel it's too early to endorse or denounce the project. But time will tell, and we'll look to the final EIR for guidance.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Unsigned editorials are the opinion of the Sierra Sun editorial staff.

CORRECTION: This editorial has been corrected to reflect Mr. Mooers wrote that the Mountain Adventure Center would be 10 stories tall. The initial writing incorrectly indicated 10 feet. Further, the editorial has been corrected to reflect that the late June meeting was before the Placer County Planning Commission.

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