Summer ops plan for Tahoe ski resort nears draft status
INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — Former IVGID Trustee Chuck Weinberger had a message for board members this week regarding summer operations at Diamond Peak: Don’t lose sight of the locals.
“The big ticket items are clearly not targeted at us. An alpine coaster and zip line cords are pretty much one-and-dones for the people who will be living here,” he said. “The big ticket items … the items that are supposed to drive revenue, I think we’re kidding ourselves if we think they are going to be profitable.”
Weinberger and several residents gave input on the Diamond Peak Master Plan process during a special Incline Village General Improvement District board meeting Wednesday.
The three-phase, multi-million-dollar plan would not raise recreation fees, according to resort planning firm SE Group, while bringing in revenue to a resort it says is underutilized for seven months of the year.
“We feel that this master plan is probably the single most important program that Diamond Peak has ever been involved in,” Diamond Peak General Manager Brad Wilson said Wednesday.
The first phase would add several summer recreation options, including hiking and mountain biking trails, canopy tours, an Aerial Challenge Course, and an alpine coaster. Summer camps, on-mountain weddings, festivals and concerts also are being considered.
Phase two includes a brand-new, 8,500-square-foot Snowflake Lodge, featuring 225 indoor seats and 225 outdoor seats, while the third phase focuses on winter upgrades, including a new detachable lift for Lakeview and more snowmaking.
The master plan’s goal is to let revenue from phase one help fund phase two, and then for phase two revenue to fund phase three, SE Group Principal Kent Sharp told trustees, meaning it could be several years before the entire plan is finished.
As part of its $100,000 contract with IVGID to create the plan, SE Group conducted an online survey last year of residents. Following is a breakdown of community desires, according to the firm:
• 67 percent in favor of mountain biking.
• 52 percent in favor of base area activities.
• 80 percent in favor of hiking.
• 56 percent in favor of canopy tours.
• 55 percent in favor of an Aerial Adventure Course.
• 83 percent in favor of on-mountain dining activities.
• 50 percent in favor of an alpine coaster.
“The hiking, the biking, opening up Snowflake … that fits perfectly into what our community … wants,” Weinberger told trustees Wednesday. “… But do we want a community zip line? Do we want a community coaster? I don’t think we do.”
Aside from community character issues, some residents are concerned with the potential for more summer traffic and noise.
“Home owners are concerned about how many people, and too many people up there in the summertime, as well as fire risks … and usage of the lower parking lot,” Incline Realtor Ken Cash, a resident within the Bitterbrush II Homeowners Association that comprises 108 homeowners in proximity to Diamond Peak, said at the Feb. 12 board meeting.
Others, however, are in favor of the plan, including Craig Olson. Olson, who owns Tunnel Creek Properties and Tunnel Creek Cafe, said he used to host weddings that “were extremely popular” and “brought a lot of money in.”
“There (are) few places around the lake left to have a wedding. Snowflake Lodge — fantastic location. You can make some great money off of that,” he said.
Olson added that, as an avid outdoorsman, he’s done several zip lines, alpine coasters and ropes courses in the past, and would have no problem coming back numerous times to Diamond Peak.
“We have an asset that’s being used five months out of the year, really, to generate income,” he said. “Why would you not want to use it to generate more?
‘LEVEL OF URGENCY’
The plan estimates Diamond Peak would see between 430 and 680 people daily across the 105-day summer season once all amenities are established.
Travel analysis done by SE Group indicates that average vehicle occupancy at Lake Tahoe is 2.5 people in the winter, and 4 in the summer — meaning 400 people would equate to 100 vehicles using the parking lot for summer operations, Sharp said.
“It’s important to note this is for people for the entire day, not just people at one time,” Wilson added. “The way people flow at the ski resort — we average 1,000 a day at the ski area for 112 days in the winter — they arrive in the morning and leave in afternoon.
“With summer, people trickle in, they’ll arrive at 10, 12, 2, 3 o’clock. You will rarely see 400 to 600 people at one time.”
Another point Sharp pointed to Wednesday is the eventual reconstruction of Snowflake Lodge. The goal is to focus the new summer options around the lodge, he said, rather than having more activity at the resort’s base area — which could become a nuisance for nearby neighborhoods.
Staff and SE Group will take feedback from Wednesday’s meeting and from the Feb. 12 meeting to create a roughly 100-page draft plan, which could be ready for board and public review by May, said IVGID Interim General Manager Joe Pomroy.
The draft is expected to include detailed financials — including expenses to create phase one, and anticipated revenues to eventually fund the second and third phases.
While Sharp reiterated to trustees a final plan will reflect what the community wants, he encouraged them to act quickly, considering Diamond Peak has the chance to set a summer trend for Lake Tahoe recreation.
“I do believe there is some level of urgency to moving toward this — in six to eight years, the rest of the market will have reacted,” Sharp said. “If Diamond Peak implements (certain upgrades), and Squaw Valley doesn’t have anything in current plans, they’re going to react at what you’re doing. To get the best results, time is of the essence.”
BEAR-PROOF TRASH ORDINANCE UP FOR VOTE
At its meeting Wednesday, March 12, the board will hold a public hearing and potentially vote in a new trash ordinance that, among other things, would mandate wildlife-proof trash containers throughout the community, a controversial issue that’s been discussed for months.
Among other changes proposed, fines for violating the law would cost $500 for a first offense, and $999 for a second, both for commercial and residential customers. If approved, it would likely go into effect this summer.
The public hearing begins at 3 p.m. at the board room at 893 Southwood Blvd. Later in the meeting, the board will be asked to approve the new law, as recommended by staff.
If approved, IVGID also would enter into a 10-year contract extension into 2027 with Waste Management to continue providing solid waste service to the community.