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Snowbasin expansion plans generating positive feedback

By Tim Vandenack - | Oct 1, 2021

TIM VANDENACK, Standard-Examiner

Ski equipment awaits use at Snowbasin on the Friday, Nov. 29, 2019.

Ambitious expansion plans at Snowbasin, including the addition of a 300-room hotel, are generating a favorable response from some of the people familiar with the plans.

They certainly haven’t generated a strong public backlash, even though development in the Ogden Valley can be a touchy issue for locals protective of the natural resources of the zone.

Jan Fullmer, an Ogden Valley resident who helps lead Ogden Valley GEM, said Snowbasin officials have covered their bases in planning for the expansion. She took part in one of the meetings organized by Snowbasin to inform different segments of the skiing and Ogden Valley community about the plans.

“Overall, they did a really good job on explaining things,” Fullmer said, singling out planning and preparations to address expected water and sewage demand brought on by expansion. GEM, made up of Ogden Valley residents, closely monitors development in the area.

Kym Buttschardt, who took part in three meetings organized by Snowbasin, said the response in the gatherings from those who attended was generally positive. Many had questions, she said, and reps from Snowbasin — pursuing expansion to bolster the number of visitors coming to the resort — were able to address the queries.

Image supplied, Snowbasin

This rendering showing some of the planned changes at Snowbasin, the Weber County ski resort. Snowbasin officials unveiled plans to upgrade the resort on Thursday, Sept. 21, 2021.

“They have done their homework on the water and the development,” said Buttschardt. She’s a regular skier at Snowbasin and also does business with the ski resort through the business she helps run, Ogden-based Roosters Brewing Co.

A massive expansion proposal put forward by Nordic Valley in 2018 generated strong public backlash, particularly a provision to create a mountain-crossing gondola between North Ogden and the Eden-area ski resort.

The Nordic Valley gondola plan “hit everybody by surprise, let me tell you,” Fullmer said. Nordic Valley ultimately put the massive proposal on the back burner, though it moved forward with a scaled-back expansion plan last year.

Snowbasin’s expansion, by contrast, had been publicly contemplated for years, and even passed preliminary review by officials in Weber and Morgan counties in the early 2010s. “This was not a big surprise to most of the people up there,” said Weber County Commissioner Gage Froerer, who lives in the Ogden Valley.

Froerer acknowledged the contingent in the Ogden Valley leery of change that results in increased traffic and visitation in the area. “You’re going to have that group that views any type of tourism as not being a good thing for the Valley,” he said.

But he senses general support for Snowbasin’s plans. Three ski resorts are based in the Ogden Valley: Snowbasin, Nordic Valley and Powder Mountain. The area is also home to Pineview Reservoir, another popular attraction.

Snowbasin publicly announced its expansion proposal on Sept. 23. Plans call for the addition of a 300-room hotel to be operated by Club Med, new retail offerings and other development around Earl’s Lodge, and additional lifts and parking.

The aim is to increase Snowbasin’s draw to visitors from around the world and bolster its standing as a destination resort. The planned changes, some of them already underway, would be the most significant upgrades since improvements implemented ahead of the 2002 Winter Olympics held in Utah. The new hotel is to be done by the end of 2024, though additional expansion is contemplated that would continue in the years to come.

From a business standpoint, Buttschardt said Snowbasin’s plans make sense. “I always knew it wasn’t sustainable just to have this amazing mountain without lodging around it,” she said.

That said, she’s aware of some grumbling on social media, mainly from skiers leery of others crowding the mountains of the area.

Davy Ratchford, Snowbasin’s general manager, has sensed the same thing from a pocket of critics but has received more positive feedback. “The feedback has been very supportive. People have been waiting a long time for this,” he said.

One of the main focuses of questioning among those who took part in Snowbasin’s meetings, Ratchford said, was about purchasing property around the resort. More information will be forthcoming if and when such details are hammered out.

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