Guest Column: Reality check — Diamond Peak Master Plan | SierraSun.com

Guest Column: Reality check — Diamond Peak Master Plan

Lawrie Lieberman

I have read the complete SE Group proposal for the Diamond Peak Master Plan, and, as one who has reviewed literally hundreds of business plans, must unfortunately give this Plan a C-.

Not only is it short on financial details, rife with optimistic revenue projections and inadequate projections of costs (especially liability exposure and contingent risks), completely lacking in competitive analysis, and phased with major front-end capital expenditures, perhaps more troubling is the process by which this plan has emerged, and the apparent steamrolling toward approval without adequate public input.

Most property owners and residents are supportive of "pieces" of this plan, though as presented it appears to be an "all or nothing" proposition, with the major financial risk front-end loaded in Phase I. Rather than validating the premise of a "better utilized facility" through a gradual phase-in (i.e. bike and hiking trails), the approach as presented presents undue risk to the ongoing financial viability of the Bond, and therefore to the community at large.

The obvious push is for an immediate zip line and coaster ride, with major capital investment and the greatest revenue uncertainty up front.

Property owners and residents should be concerned by two major factors:

1. MATERIAL FINANCIAL RISK TO PROPERTY OWNERS: The $18.2 million plan, as proposed, is essentially backed by Incline and Crystal Bay property owners. In the event of a default on any bonds to fund the $18.2 million due to inadequate revenues from the new items proposed; a major injury liability hit (e.g. Heavenly); mismanagement; or unforeseen cost overruns, the shortfall may be born by property owners in the form of higher taxes. Not only will this be an undue burden on those living on fixed incomes, the impact on property values could be negative. It would be interesting to have the SE Group revenue plan evaluated by an independent investment banker to see if it passed his or her smell test.

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2. MATERIAL IMPACT ON THE FABRIC AND LIFESTYLE OF OUR COMMUNITY: Everyone in our community — property owners and non-owning residents — will be affected either directly or indirectly by the master plan, as no credible (i.e. independent) study has been undertaken to determine the environmental, noise, traffic or other impacts. Obviously, those closest to Diamond Peak will be most severely impacted, but the entire IVCB area will live with the consequences. While we all understand and support the value of our July 4 and other summer activities for enjoyment and local businesses, the crowd and traffic inconveniences are only temporary. The Diamond Peak plan promises more of the same (if their projections prove true), and no credible response is offered.

I applaud IVGID GM Steve Pinkerton's decision to form a Steering Committee, but there is very real concern among a growing number of citizens that this committee will be stacked in favor of the plan, rather than impartial.

This issue should not be about personalities or special issues or hidden agendas. This issue is far greater than garbage, beach access, or many of the routine challenges we and IVGID face.

If Pinkerton and IVGID really want an objective read of the community, a simple independent poll should be conducted (not the sham surveys carefully orchestrated).

My guess is that the vast majority of our citizens would oppose the plan as presented, and rather would be more receptive to a phased, gradual approach, less capital intensive (and risky), and more in keeping with what we'd all like Incline and Crystal Bay to be.

After all, it's not like IVGID's management to date of the ski hill or golf courses have been huge cash cows.

Lawrence (Lawrie) Lieberman is an Incline property owner and full time resident since 2000.