Squaw developers: Nonprofit foundation would provide millions in support; details of how, though, are unclear | SierraSun.com

Squaw developers: Nonprofit foundation would provide millions in support; details of how, though, are unclear

OLYMPIC VALLEY, Calif. — Even though the proposal to redevelop the Village at Squaw Valley hasn't been approved, resort officials are making plans for how they'll distribute funds from the project's transfer fee.

A press release distributed last week by Squaw Valley Ski Holdings announced the formation of the nonprofit Squaw Valley Foundation, which would provide an initial $7.5 million to projects related to the redevelopment.

The announcement came nine days before the Placer County Planning Commission is set to hear an updated version of the proposal, formally known as the Village at Squaw Valley Specific Plan.

At a special meeting held May 14, the Squaw Valley Municipal Advisory Council voted 3-1 to recommend the plan's denial.

The Thursday, Aug. 11, planning commission meeting is the next step in the process. Just like the MAC, the planning commission's vote is merely a recommendation to the Placer County Board of Supervisors, which has the final say in the matter.

According to last week's press release, the Squaw Valley Foundation — not to be confused with the Squaw Alpine Foundation — will be responsible for distributing funds generated from the project's 1.5 percent transfer fee to community and environmental initiatives, should the project be approved.

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The fee would generate $7.5 million up front in developer sales, then more than $1 million annually beyond that. If the plan to redevelop is not approved, no nonprofit will be formed.

'EMPOWER LOCAL ADVOCATES'

Still, that uncertainty hasn't stopped Squaw Valley Ski Holdings from moving forward with plans for the foundation.

Jessica VanPernis Weaver, of JVP Communications, is handling communications for Squaw Valley Ski Holdings. In an email Friday, she said the selection of founding board members for the nonprofit is currently underway, but declined to comment further.

In a separate interview attempt from the Sierra Sun on Monday, Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows Public Relations Director Liesl Kenney declined to answer questions regarding plans for the nonprofit.

In a follow-up email Monday night, Kenney said the selection process for founding board members hasn't started.

MinutesSVMACS051416 by Amanda Rhoades on Scribd

The press release, meanwhile, says that Squaw Foundation's 7-person board will be made up of "a mix of local residents and business owners, second homeowners and a public service district appointee."

The release does not specify what the selection process will entail, when it will be finalized or how the public will be invited to participate. Neither spokesperson would provide information on what the projects were that the foundation would consider or how the founding board members will be chosen.

"In creating the Squaw Valley Foundation, our intention is to empower local advocates to address issues and fund environmental, transit and recreational initiatives and further land conservation and cultural preservation within Olympic Valley," Andy Wirth, president and CEO of Squaw Valley Ski Holdings, said in a statement. "The Squaw Valley Foundation board of directors will ultimately be the decision-makers who will manage and distribute the monies generated from the project transfer fees associated with The Village at Squaw Valley redevelopment plan."

PUBLIC COMMENTARY

Thursday's meeting at the North Tahoe Event Center in Kings Beach is expected to draw a large crowd, as both supporters of the redevelopment and its opposition have been busy encouraging residents to show up and make their opinions heard.

Minutes from the May 5 MAC meeting show that of the 24 individuals and representatives from conservation groups who spoke during public comment, only four were in favor of the redevelopment proposal.

The county's documents note that although many people who spoke at the MAC meeting acknowledged improvements to the existing village are necessary, they said the current proposal is still too big.

In an earlier interview, Kenney said, "There's a lot of really fervent supporters of this project, but it's really hard to stand up in a room when everyone is very fired up and intimidating.

"You know, you get booed."

Over the last month, Squaw Valley Ski Holdings has been working hard to encourage project supporters to voice enthusiasm for the plan, including launching the website SquawTomorrow.com, airing a television ad and offering shuttle services for supporters to get to the Aug. 11 meeting.

Meanwhile, Sierra Watch, the nonprofit behind the "Keep Squaw True" campaign, has launched similar efforts encouraging project opposition, including releasing its own promotional video and offering free T-shirts to those who join them at Thursday's meeting.

If you go

The Placer County Planning Commission is scheduled to hear the Squaw Valley Specific Plan on Aug. 11 at the North Tahoe Event Center in Kings Beach at 10:30 a.m., though organizers on both sides of the issue have encouraged community members to arrive early to find parking and get a good seat.

Last month’s hearing of the Martis Valley West Specific Plan, which was held in the same venue, drew more supporters than there were seats to accommodate them.

Both Keep Squaw True and the Village at Squaw Valley Redevelopment have created Facebook event pages to encourage their supporters to attend the hearing.

More online

Visit bit.ly/1Hfvg0g to view the current project’s final environmental impact report, and other associated project details.

Visit thevillageatsquaw.com for information from the developers about their vision. Visit keepsquawtrue.org, created by Sierra Watch, to find out more about opposition to the proposal.