My Turn: Finding Goldilocks in Squaw Valley
For the past two years, KSL has been planning an urbanized village expansion in Squaw Valley with a proposed 2,200 new bedrooms, an indoor water park and 8-story buildings that would encircle the existing village, dwarfing it in size and scope.
KSL seeks zoning changes that would further encroach upon the mountain, remove the historic Olympic members locker room building, and block the views of current Intrawest Village residents who bought their units with a promised view corridor.
Add their 15-year build-out timeline and, clearly, the size of the project is more than the valley could sustain (and violates the Squaw Valley General Plan and Design Guidelines).
Now that KSL’s development application has floundered, they have retreated to reconsider their plan. Once again, there is no communication with the ski or residential community, other than “trust us” from KSL management.
Hopefully, their next iteration will reflect a more harmonious and compatible proposal for a truly vibrant and successful Alpine village.
The Friends of Squaw Valley (http://friendsofsv.org/) was initially formed to give voice to community concerns raised by the original KSL proposal as well as to engender support for the kind of community and resort village we want in the future.
Guided by feedback from numerous meetings, an online survey (just published at http://friendsofsv.org/surveyresults/), as well as consultation with land use planning experts and architects, we have articulated “our values” (http://friendsofsv.org/values/).
These provide the framework for a set of design guidelines that would result in a successful alpine village that builds sensitively onto our existing village and ensures a legacy where future generations will experience Squaw Valley much the same as we have.
• the existing village needs to grow and become our community center, not just the center of a commercial resort.
• the village must maintain an intimate scale and expand with consistent, harmonious architecture, which prioritizes open space, pedestrian gathering places and views that ensure mountain connectivity.
• our existing blend of residents, day skiers, and visitors must be maintained.
• our Olympic heritage must be respected and preserved.
• our community should house its own employees and provide opportunity for residents of all income levels.
• the Village economy must be viable, sustainable and regionally integrated but should not compromise environmental qualities.
• the village should grow in phases, only expanding once the previous phase has not just been sold but has proven successful in its performance. We don’t want a “church built for Easter” resulting in a ghost village the rest of the year.
• Squaw Creek should be rehabilitated with goals of improving instream flows while reducing sediment loads.
• the legacy we leave our children and their children should provide much the same experience that we now enjoy in Squaw Valley.
We hope that KSL’s next proposal demonstrates a new respect for the community it has joined, with a plan that supports the values we hold important, and with a transparency that allows progress, accepts mutual understanding and ensures viability.
I have called this pursuit the “Goldilocks formula” — not too big, not too small, but just right. Working together, I have confidence we can accomplish this goal.
Ed Heneveld is chairman of the Friends of Squaw Valley.
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