Develop or Die?
Royal Gorges owners say their proposed development could supply enough new skiers to reinvigorate the Donner Summit cross-country ski areas lagging business.Echoing the trend to create destination resorts in the alpine ski industry, proponents claim the addition of about 950 new residential units could keep the venerable cross-country resort afloat.Yet, some critics contend that the Summit development will harm rather than help the cross-country resort. But thats not how the man overseeing the proposed development envisions it.We are hoping the new community will support the cross-country ski resort; the owners have to subsidize it today, said Royal Gorge Project Manager Mike Livak. Right now its a very significant money loser.Livak said Royal Gorge is losing tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars annually.He said the developments project team presumes that many of those purchasing residences in the new development would also buy passes at the Royal Gorge of the future, allowing North Americas largest cross-country ski resort to at least break even.I think there is a finite amount of time for any losing business, but there are no plans to close the cross-country ski area. Livak said. The cross-country ski area is integral to the development.As it stands now, Livak said the annual numbers of visitors is very modest, about 10 percent of what many alpine ski resorts attract. But critics of the Royal Gorge development dont buy into Livaks logic.They use that argument to justify building the development and not fixing the resort, said Joe Gray, a board member of the Serene Lakes Property Owners Association. They are not cross-country ski resort operators; they are developers.Gray said improving the resorts facilities and looking at other cross-country ski resorts as models would be more beneficial than building in and around Royal Gorge.There are a lot of cross-country skiers that live up here, and they are almost unanimously outraged at what they are doing, Gray said.Bob Roberts, executive director of the California Ski Industry Association, said large-scale development in conjunction with ski resorts is becoming more important, especially in areas like Lake Tahoe.If you can bring people in for a week like in Europe or Colorado, then you are mitigating a lot of issues like filling beds mid-week, and putting less cars on the road, Roberts said. And cross-country ski areas can benefit from the same thing.But because cross-country skiing is a much smaller market than alpine, Roberts said a resort like Royal Gorge also relies on its proximity to Lake Tahoe as a winter destination.JoJo Toeppner, who manages the Tahoe Donner Cross Country Center, said being tied into the 6,000-home subdivision helps business, but the facility still relies on visits by the general public.It gives you mid-week business, Toeppner said. Tahoe Donner residents are like 80 percent midweek, and maybe 20 percent on the weekend.Taking another route, the Tahoe Cross Country Ski Area on the North Shore went to a nonprofit-public partnership when private for-profit businesses struggled, said Kevin Mornane, the ski areas manager .The ski area has been around for a little over 30 years, and was run for profit in the past, but there were some complaints about how it was run, he said. Partnering with the Tahoe City Public Utility District made it more of a community atmosphere with volunteer support.
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The county’s total coronavirus case count reached 3,234 on Wednesday, an increase of 28 from the day before.