IVGID GM’s corner: What’s next for Diamond Peak | SierraSun.com

IVGID GM’s corner: What’s next for Diamond Peak

Steve Pinkerton

Thanks to everyone who attended last week’s Board of Trustees Meeting regarding the Diamond Peak Master Plan. There were nearly 250 residents in attendance, and 34 members of the public took the time to come to the podium and comment on the Master Plan.

As I noted in my last column, this initial review of the final document is the beginning of the process for considering the future of Diamond Peak and does not imply approval of any aspect of the Master Plan.

The specific action taken by the Board of Trustees was as follows:

“Receive the Diamond Peak Master Plan dated August 2014 as attached and direct staff to return to the Board of Trustees with an implementation plan which provides more detailed review of the individual components included in Phase 1, and includes additional community review of the plan.”

Here’s the link to the full staff report and the Master Plan: tinyurl.com/kf5gr8v

The final document was the culmination of 16 months of research in conjunction with the top ski area planning firm in the country, five public meetings, over 700 survey responses, and consultations with the US Forest Service, Washoe County and TRPA.

While the Plan is chocked full of great information, there were three key findings:

Summer use of Diamond Peak could provide many positive amenities for the community and year round use of the facility could provide long term financial stability to the operation.

An additional ski lift is needed in the mid-mountain area to improve the balance between uphill and downhill capacity and provide more trail access for novice skiers.

There is an opportunity to expand the ski area by 387 acres of terrain onto the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest. This expansion area would provide the opportunity for lift-served “backcountry-style” skiing not currently available at Diamond Peak.

The study also concluded that the summer activities (included in Phase 1 of the Plan) have the potential to generate the revenue necessary to fund the winter improvements and pay for the renovation of Snowflake Lodge.

To some, the Plan may seem like a radical departure from the status quo. I’m sure many were saying the same thing back in 1986, when the previous Master Plan recommended a major expansion of the ski area.

There is little doubt our ski area would no longer exist if the previous plan had not been implemented. There is also little doubt our ski area will not last another 28 years without additional changes. As GM, I have a fiduciary responsibility to ensure the long term health of this important asset.

However, as a community-owned ski area, it is important that we chart a future that is consistent with our community values. That is why staff is recommending a significant public participation process as part of the implementation plan. I will be putting together a Steering Committee to assist in reviewing and further developing each and every component of the Master Plan.

This Steering Committee will include a cross section of interests: recreational user groups, adjacent homeowners associations, environmental interests and others with a strong interest in the future disposition of Diamond Peak. All of the Steering Committee meetings will be open to the public, meetings minutes recorded and all information will be made readily available to the community.

This group would work in conjunction with staff and our consulting team to conduct a detailed review of every aspect of Phase 1 of the plan. This would include doing a much more detailed site analysis of each proposed use. Plans and specifications would be drawn up, analyzing aesthetic and visual impacts of each use.

Noise studies and environmental analyses would be conducted and there would be frequent consultations with the responsible regulatory agencies. All this additional information would allow for more accurate financial projections to be created and generate a far more accurate financial risk assessment as well.

I am hoping to return to the Board of Trustees in late October with a detailed scope of work for the implementation plan and a final list of committee members.

For me, the results of this process are only meaningful if a truly representative group serves on the Steering Committee. If you are interested in participating, send me an email at: sjp@ivgid.org.

Thanks again to everyone who attended on September 10th and thanks to all of those who sent emails and letters as well.

“GM’s Corner” is a twice-monthly column from Incline Village General Improvement Distinct General Manager Steve Pinkerton, who will discuss issues and offer updates regarding various district matters.