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Squaw Valley scales back growth plans

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After 300 meetings regarding its plans for growth in Olympic Valley, Squaw Valley has announced a "...smaller and more focused..." plan for expanding its operations, according to Amelia Richmond, PR Director at the resort, on December 16. The planners met with over 5,000 individuals.

The initial plan drew quite a bit of opposition from residents in Olympic Valley. It was derided as Disneyland on the mountain. The result was the formation of Friends of Squaw Valley and the formation of a committee to pursue turning the valley into a city.

The Village at Squaw Valley responded to the backlash, and ended up cutting their plans back by 1/3. The height of buildings was also reduced, as the interruption in what is known as the "viewscape" was unacceptable to valley residents.

The number of additional rooms was reduced from 3,800 to 700. The resort is also committed to investing millions into restoring Squaw Creek and other environmental concerns.

Traffic mitigation figures into the mix as well. Encouraging bus and other transit options is a focus. The resort will build a transit center for buses and shuttles for Squaw Valley.

From Andy Wirth, President and CEO of Squaw and Alpine: "These new plans reflect the input of literally thousands of our friends and neighbors in the Tahoe region. We listened and we're ready to move forward with a scaled down development that will protect Squaw's future and create more than 2,300 jobs in the area, while protecting more than 6,000 acres of recreational land."

David Stepner, a leader in the community, offered this: "The design concept presented today represents a significant, big step towards accommodation with the Squaw Valley community. The thinking behind this proposal seems to recognize some key community values: preserving the Squaw Heritage with "O" House; being a non-obtrusive neighbor to surrounding HOA's with key view lines being maintained; supporting Squaw's special camaraderie with preserving the Member's Locker Room; recognizing the daily skier population and limiting the impact on Squaw's resources with a significant reduction in room count. A lot depends on the forthcoming specific plan and draft EIR, let's continue this spirit."

How all of this ultimately plays out is a question. While there will certainly be more work to bring the project to closure, with the resort and valley residents working together, the process should continue to move forward.

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