Opinion: Concerns about Diamond Peak committee report | SierraSun.com

Opinion: Concerns about Diamond Peak committee report

Editor’s note

The Diamond Peak Master Plan Steering Committee report is expected to be released in the coming days, IVGID GM Steve Pinkerton said this week. A special meeting on July 15 before the IVGID board will focus on presentation and discussion of the report, including potential next steps. Further, Pinkerton said that the report will include a dissenting opinion section, which doesn’t reflect just one person’s views, but from others, including those from Ms. Miller.

At the last meeting of the Diamond Peak Master Plan Steering Committee, I presented my draft “dissenting” opinion.

Despite the fact that we had discussed that more than one dissenting opinion would be a likely outcome, mine will not be included in the final report.

As a committee, we did unanimously support some elements of the plan: the bike and hiking trail improvements, summer camps for our kids, and an upgraded Snowflake Lodge.

Although many of us support summer use for community recreation, I think the majority of property owners, like me, oppose the most expensive and highly commercial elements of the plan: the canopy tour (a series of zip lines) at $900K, the alpine coaster for $1.6M, and the monstrous reincarnation of the Snowflake Lodge at over $5M, plus entitlement and permitting costs.

I don’t support going forward with the entitlement/permit process for the Committee’s modified plan; nor do I support a simple up or down vote on it. Here are my reasons why:

We should look at winter operations first. During the presentation by Mr. Eick, we learned that Diamond Peak’s financials omitted some major expenses (like HR, central IT and accounting), as well as contributions to our Board and Admin’s $3 million of other expenses. Any real business has to fund those types of expenses.

On p. 16 of the plan, the consultant remarked (based on vastly understated expenses) that since Diamond Peak’s winter operations were doing so well relative to other similar areas, there was no sense in focusing effort on improvements there; in retrospect, winter operations should be the priority.

There is nothing to suggest that winter losses will be offset. At the Jan. 12, 2015, DPMP Steering Committee meeting, former Trustee Bruce Simonian told the group that one of the main objectives in exploring summer operations was to offset winter losses (currently requiring huge subsidies paid by our Rec Fee and taxes).

P. 65 of the plan shows that it wasn’t expected to do that any time soon (at least 7 years). The new plan, based on the same flawed expense model (no central services), is still unlikely to offset winter losses.

Of course some argue that if IVGID doesn’t go forward with the later phases, there should eventually be some positive cash flow, but that means scrapping the plan.

It’s not for the community. We bought/built our other recreational venues because they were for us, the residents and homeowners of the community. The 3 big-ticket items are primarily for tourists.

It puts the property owners at risk. If these attractions don’t produce the projected revenue, homeowners will have to pay even greater subsidies. We don’t get money from room taxes or the Division of Tourism.

My suggestion to get businesses to fund these amenities was summarily dismissed. I suppose the Hyatt knows full well IVGID has us wrapped around their little (or perhaps a different) finger.

It’s not active recreation. The plan also claims (p. 27) the focus should be on “active” recreation. Walking a few yards between the zip line stations, attending wedding receptions at the gargantuan Snowflake Lodge, or sitting strapped in to the alpine coaster just doesn’t fit my definition of active.

It’s about as active as watching TV and walking to the refrigerator.

We need accurate financials and an unbiased survey before we do anything else.

Staff wants us to put all their wish list items in the bucket to take to the Forest Service and TRPA for approvals.

Before filling that bucket we should provide property owners with the revised plan together with complete financials, including all central services costs, then survey them to find out what they really want, not limiting their options to just those in the plan.

Just because the majority of the Committee (selected by Mr. Pinkerton) supports a modified plan, doesn’t mean the majority of property owners support it.

Owners of 13 dwelling units out of the 8188 assessed the Rec Fee is not a representative sample. There’s no sense putting things in the bucket most owners don’t want; carrying a full bucket to TRPA and USFS will cost more than only half a bucket.

If you were surprised by the property owners’ outcry at last year’s Ordinance 7 fiasco, just wait until they hear about going forward with summer ops at Diamond Peak before they’ve been surveyed.

Better build a bigger Chateau, quick! If we can afford to mail a glossy magazine to all property owners, why can’t we send them a survey?

Judith Miller is an Incline Village resident and a Diamond Peak Master Plan Committee Member.

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