Copper officials continue transportation, gondola discussion |

Copper officials continue transportation, gondola discussion

COPPER MOUNTAIN – The Ten Mile Planning Commission appears more likely to deny than approve Intrawest’s proposed Union Creek gondola, based on commissioner’s comments Thursday.

The commission – in charge of reviewing Intrawest’s long-term, build-out proposal – continued discussions Thursday about transportation issues at Copper Mountain, including two proposed gondolas.

The Village gondola would carry guests from the Alpine parking lot, next to Highway 91, to the Village at Copper.

The more controversial Union Creek gondola would move people from the base of the American Flyer lift to the Union Creek base area.

Karl Anuta, a Boulder resident who owns a home at Copper Mountain, suggested Thursday the commission approve only the Village gondola at this time because of the controversy surrounding the Union Creek gondola.

A number of Copper Mountain homeowners, particularly those at the Lodge at Copper, are opposed to the gondola because they say the proposed alignment brings the lift too close to their homes, creating privacy and safety issues. They have also voiced concerns about the lift’s effects on the environment.

Intrawest officials have offered to mitigate those problems, but the company’s suggestions have not swayed homeowners such as Anuta.

“Say yes to the first half (the Village gondola),” Anuta told the planning commission. “Say no to the second half. That’s the answer. (Intrawest) can still come back and do it at a later date.”

Intrawest officials weren’t pleased with Anuta’s suggestion.

“We’re asking that (the Union Creek gondola) be kept in the plan and continue to be considered,” said Jim Spenst, vice president of operations for Copper Mountain.

But for commissioners, Anuta’s idea held merit.

Not only has the proposed Union Creek gondola garnered opposition from numerous homeowners, but members of the planning commission weren’t convinced it’s necessary for the resort.

Commissioner Dick Boylan said he liked Anuta’s suggestion to proceed with the Village gondola but put Union Creek gondola on hold.

Commissioner John Lokie agreed, “I still don’t know if the value of the Union Creek gondola has been shown.”

“This Union Creek gondola is a major issue,” said Commissioner Greg Krol, adding that he, too, might like to defer consideration of the gondola.

Commission Chairman Dan Basica was the only member of the commission who said he liked Intrawest’s preferred alignment for the Union Creek gondola, despite the fact it would run in front of his home in the Union Creek Townhomes.

If it weren’t for opposition from the Lodge at Copper – the building most directly affected by the gondola – “I would say it’s a slam dunk – do it,” Basica said. But he couldn’t endorse it considering the position of homeowners at the Lodge, he said.


The plan

Intrawest has proposed replacing its current shuttle system with two aerial people movers or gondolas as a part of its Comprehensive Development Strategy (CDS). The CDS is an amendment to its current planned-unit-development approval and includes a performing arts center, a large hotel and about 1,244 single-family, duplex, townhome and condominium units.

Replacing the shuttle with a gondola system would allow Intrawest to remove the paved shuttle lane and realign Copper Road for more efficient use of land and to reduce vehicular traffic, thereby making Copper Mountain more pedestrian-friendly, Intrawest officials said.


Other traffic

Officials also discussed how to slow traffic on Highway 91, whether to build a roundabout or a traffic light at the intersection of Highway 91 and Copper Road, the width of the county right-of-way in the resort and whether to build an underpass or overpass for pedestrians and cyclists crossing the highway.

Ultimately, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) will make the decision whether to put a traffic light or roundabout at the resort’s main intersection, but homeowners and commissioners alike have agreed a traffic light would be the safest solution to manage traffic there.

The county right-of-way is now more than 100 feet wide, officials said. While some Ten Mile commissioners said they want to keep the width for future use, others said they would prefer to narrow the road to discourage vehicular traffic and speed.

Commissioners haven’t yet come to an agreement how best to manage pedestrian and bicycle traffic crossing the highway.


Lu Snyder can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 203, or

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