On the Hill: Slide fight
October 19, 2006
EAGLE, Colo. ” Former President Gerald Ford and other property owners in the upscale Beaver Creek resort community are fighting a proposed concrete-track alpine slide that would let summertime visitors zoom down a ski slope on roller-mounted sleds.
“An alpine slide is an amusement-park ride,” Beaver Creek Property Owners Association attorney Rick Johnson said. “An alpine slide is not compatible with the valley’s environment.”
The slide is part of a strategy by Vail Resorts, which owns the Beaver Creek ski area, to turn its winter resorts into year-round destinations. The company already operates an alpine slide at its Breckenridge resort.
The Eagle County commissioners held a hearing on Monday on whether the slide would be allowed under county regulations. They reached no decision and scheduled another meeting for Nov. 21.
In 1988, alpine slides were omitted from the original list of accepted uses for outdoor recreation development, but the county adopted new rules in 1994. Vail Resorts argues the new rules allow for “all recreational uses,” including an alpine slide.
Vail Resorts attorney Diane Mauriello said the company and Beaver Creek property owners had carefully negotiated the regulations.
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But the property owners blasted Vail Resorts and the plan, saying it would go against the character of Beaver Creek and would be a noisy, ugly intrusion for an area that boasts expansive ski terrain, expensive homes and posh lodges.
Ford, who has owned a home in Beaver Creek for 30 years, wrote a letter saying he and his wife, Betty, oppose the project.
“We have always enjoyed the peace and beauty of Beaver Creek mountain,” he wrote.
Vail Resorts, based in the Denver suburb of Broomfield, already operates an alpine slide at its Breckenridge Ski Resort.
Its competitors, like Winter Park and Durango Mountain Resort, have been operating similar slides during the summer months.
Vail Resorts owns and operates Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Keystone ski areas in Colorado, Heavenly in Nevada and California, and Grand Teton Lodge Co. near Jackson, Wyo.