Future plans for Royal Gorge development remain vague | SierraSun.com

Future plans for Royal Gorge development remain vague

Court Leve/Sierra SunA meadow in the Royal Gorge cross country ski area is seen in this photo taken Sunday.

Although details on development plans at Royal Gorge cross country ski resort remain scarce, the companies that purchased the land last year have hired a project director to oversee potential real estate development on the Donner Summit property.

Mike Livak, current vice president of Squaw Valley Ski Corp., will step into the role of senior vice president and project director for Royal Gorge LLC starting in July.

In October 2005, Foster Enterprises of Redwood City and Woodstock Development of Burlingame purchased the cross country ski area and bought the Ice Lakes Lodge in January. They haven’t divulged their plans for the 4,000 acres of private land.

The new property owners, Todd Foster and Kirk Syme, have been talking to Summit residents to get a feel for their concerns.

“We’re not sure exactly what [the project] is,” Foster said. “A lot of it depends on the feedback that we’re getting.”

He said it will be important to preserve trail access in the area.

“We want to put some sort of development together that enables people to get out and take advantage and take care of the land that surrounds Royal Gorge,” Foster said.

The project has caused concern from Donner Summit and Serene Lakes residents, especially the prospect of development in Van Norden Meadow and better access to the trail system.

Martin Bern, president of Serene Lakes Property Owners Association, said the developer wouldn’t tell him when a conceptual plan would be released.

“We’re totally in the dark about development plans,” Bern said.

He said residents are concerned about large-scale development, with rumors of a hotel that would increase the amount of traffic in the area.

Of the 9,000 acres of the Royal Gorge property, the largest groomed track system in North America, 5,000 acres are leased from the U.S. Forest Service. Several large tracts of land are zoned for minimal density, 80 acres per unit or 160 acres per unit. The area surrounding Serene Lakes would allow for a single family project or multi-family project. Any development, Foster said, is a few years out.

The new owners have also hired longtime Royal Gorge operations manager Neil Erasmus to replace former Royal Gorge owner John Slouber, who is retiring from his current duties as general manager.

” Sierra Sun reporter Sierra Countis contributed to this report.

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