My Turn: Beyond development " Don’t squander Royal Gorge’s potential | SierraSun.com

My Turn: Beyond development " Don’t squander Royal Gorge’s potential

Kathryn Gray

The Reno-Tahoe Winter Games Coalition has been working since 2002 to bring the 2018 Olympics to the Reno-Tahoe area. Residents have mixed views about hosting a Winter Olympics, many fearing this would cause additional pressures for development and sprawl in the area, and consequent environmental damage.-

On the positive side, governmental entities, such as Placer County, support the drive to host the Olympics, as they see potential for economic growth, and improved infrastructure.

We’ll be debating, probably for some time, whether hosting an Olympic Games in a little over 10 years would be a benefit, a burden, or both for our Sierra.

It could indeed prove a benefit if it causes local decision makers to step back, and consider how such a valuable resource as Royal Gorge Cross Country Ski Resort could be squandered today on unwise condominium development, when its highest and best use is as recreational terrain.

It is widely accepted that Royal Gorge Cross Country Ski Resort is one of the best, if not the best, locale for the sport in the entire country ” there are those who claim it is the best in the world. Because of its location on the west side of Donner Summit, it receives quantities of snow other resorts can only envy. It is an expansive resort, with a combination of private land and leased land that yields miles of trails.

The scenery is superb, and it is a few short miles from Interstate 80.- Spectators staying in Truckee , North Lake Tahoe and Reno would enjoy easy access to all events.-

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Unfortunately, there’s a worm in the apple. In several recent newspaper articles, Mike Livak, project director for Royal Gorge LLC’s overwhelming development plans, has damned the resort with faint praise, basically saying it’s a money loser, and was when they bought it ” ergo it must be developed. The proposed development involves, among other things, two artificial lakes in the heart of the resort, and tangles of roads, driveways, and parking lots. Rubber mats will be laid out in order to ski cross all the hard-scape ” hardly an ideal Olympic venue.

Documents filed with Placer County in 2005 (liquor licenses, actually) show that Kirk Syme, and the Foster cousins Mark and Todd, paid a business value (not including land and fixed assets) of $20.1 million for Royal Gorge Cross Country Ski Resort. In light of Mr. Livak’s assertions (Nevada Union; Truckee Times) that the resort is a subsidy-sponge, one wonders if they ever intended to make a go of the resort?

Realtors have a saying about land in California to reassure customers , “They’re not making any more of it.” When it comes to Olympic-calibre, cross-country ski resorts, this is more than true.

To the decision makers who are confronted with requests to change county general plans, and zoning so as to enable developers to pave over Olympic-class cross country ski terrain, so they can sell lots of timeshares:- Please, step back, look at the good of the county, and the state and don’t change the rules so the country’s best Olympic-class cross-country ski terrain can be covered with timeshares, fractional ownerships and sprawl.