Gondola plan goes under microscope | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Gondola plan goes under microscope

The Douglas County Board of Commissioners got their first up-close look at an ambitious $700-million, hotel-casino development project on Kingsbury Grade on Thursday. The verdict? Well, it’s really too early to tell.

The development, which would include a $30-million gondola project that would link the Carson Valley with South Lake Tahoe, was presented by representatives of Kingsbury Summit Development LLC at the regular Board of Commissioners meeting at Stateline.

“It’s just a wild dream right now,” said Commissioner Steve Weissinger, who got an opportunity to preview a video of the project supplied by the developers last week. The video was presented again at Thursday’s meeting.

“In order for this project to become reality, it must meet the muster test,” Weissinger said. “That means, on the valley side, the planning commission and the board of commissioners. Then, in the Tahoe Basin, it would come under TRPA scrutiny. If they can clear a number of major hurdles, then I would certainly give it a fair hearing.”

Weissinger said that he had serious concerns about the traffic impacts that an 800-unit development would create on Kingsbury Grade.

“We’re talking about taking a complex the size of Harvey’s and putting it on top of the mountain,” he said. “There are many things that have to be looked at more closely.

“But I would tend to support the gondola concept,” he said.

Kingsbury Summit Development’s proposal includes shops, a hotel and an elaborate transportation system featuring the gondola, which could ferry 2,400 people per hour from David Walley’s Hot Springs Resort in the Carson Valley to land on Park Cattle Company property near Caesars Tahoe. If approved, it would be the largest development to hit the Tahoe area ever. A 500-unit hotel-casino, a 300-unit time-share, employee housing, theaters and restaurants are part of the plan.

Kingsbury Summit Developers already owns 66.6 acres on upper Kingsbury, where the hotel-casino complex would be located (on the eastern slope).

There have been some concerns expressed, however, by the Nevada Department of Transportation, which does not see how a major development on Kingsbury will not produce more traffic congestion on an already-overworked highway.

“This project needs to be measured in terms of benefits to the community,” said Carl Skylling, director of U.S. Sales for Garaventa CTEC, which would construct the gondola system. “The benefits are many. There would be less traffic. It would be well worth it.”

Commissioner Don Miner said that he was happy to see exactly what was being proposed.

“It was an excellent presentation which showed exactly where we are,” Miner said. “It would be a major tourist attraction. At this point I think people are intrigued.”

Project director Angelo Morales said that a proposal for a tentative map for the project will be filed with Douglas County planners in early December. The plan would then be up for approval with the board of commissioners in March of 2000.

Another big hurdle would be the Douglas County Master Plan, which would have to be amended in order to accommodate the project.

“Every hurdle will be a major one,” Morales said. “Right now we’re concentrating on getting information out to the public. Once people visualize this project, they will support it.”

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