EDEN — The Nordic Valley ski resort would become a "destination resort" capable of comfortably handling 11,000 guests a day, 10 times more than it currently can, per a proposed expansion.
It would surpass Snowbasin Resort in size and become home to three mountain restaurants, in addition to the 4.3-mile mountain-crossing gondola linking North Ogden and Nordic Valley's existing facilities in Eden, the focus of previous community debate.
The resort would shift "from a small ski hill to a major destination resort that appeals to local families, travelers from the broader Wasatch Front and destination visitors from around the county and world," operator Mountain Capital Partners said in new development plan.
Nordic Valley plans came to public light last June and were the focus of a flurry of public meetings over the summer. Now Mountain Capital Partners has crafted a master development plan providing additional details and scheduled a pair of meetings for next week to give the public an opportunity to ask questions and sound off.
But already, the 86-page document and the new information within is spurring reaction.
By the reckoning of Dan Schroeder, conservation chair in the Ogden Group of the Sierra Club, an environmental organization, the expansion would require nearly 19 miles in new roads in the mountainous area, potentially marring the pristine zone.
Seeing details of the project in black and white, Meg Sanders of North Ogden, who's closely followed the process, worries the project will adversely impact the small city.
"Do you want to be a bedroom community or a resort community? How can that project be good for a little community like us?" she said, calling for more involvement from local officials in the process.
The public meetings are scheduled for Monday from 6-7:30 p.m. at the North View Senior Center, 485 E. 2550 North in North Ogden, and Tuesday at the same time at Snowcrest Junior High, 2755 N. Highway 162, Eden.
The plans have been submitted to the U.S. Forest Service for review, and James Coleman, managing parter of Mountain Capital Partners, will be on hand at next week's meetings to answer questions and hear comments. Coleman took part in the other meetings on the plans over the summer as well. Also present will be a U.S. Forest Service representative and officials from SE Group, the consulting firm that helped craft the Nordic Valley plans, according to Austin Isbell of Love Communications, helping Nordic Valley with communications efforts.
Though Nordic Valley's proposal has generated a lot of attention, massive change wouldn't necessarily be immediately in the offing. The Forest Service must review Nordic Valley's new plan since a big chunk of the expansion would be on Forest Service land and decide whether the initiative meets agency goals and objectives. If the Forest Service accepts the proposal, the plans would then be focus of even more scrutiny per the National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA, to determine whether Nordic Valley may operate in Forest Service terrain.
"Depending on environmental impacts analyzed and the scope of the analysis, the NEPA process could take several years," the Nordic Valley report says.
Ideally, though, Coleman, contacted by phone, said he'd like to get started sooner, within a year-and-a-half.
Many voiced questions and concerns about the project during the public meetings over the summer, but Coleman doesn't think they're necessarily representative of the majority of people in the area. "I think their are way more people who are for the project than are against it," he said.
Either way, the plans are ambitious. Per the new development plan:
- The proposed 4.3-mile, two-stage gondola — focus of "NO GONDOLA" yard signs planted by some project foes in North Ogden — is the "centerpiece" of the plans and would be the longest system of its type in the United States.
- The expansion would give Nordic Valley, now contained on 140 acres, more than 3,500 acres of skiable areas and a "comfortable carrying capacity," or CCC, of 11,380 guests a day. The CCC is a measure of how many visitors a resort can handle without being overloaded and the proposed figure represents a 10-fold jump from 1,030, the current number.
- At full build-out, Nordic Valley would be bigger than Snowbasin, also in Weber County, which has around 3,000 skiable acres and a CCC of 9,600 people a day. Nordic Valley would still be smaller than Powder Mountain, Weber County's other ski resort, which has 8,464 skiable acres.
- The number of aerial lifts at Nordic Valley would go from three to 15 and the resort would expand up the mountain, with the top elevation increasing to around 8,100 feet, up from 6,300 feet. New ski trails and lifts would be developed on both the Eden and North Ogden sides of the mountain dividing the two locales.
- Facilities for recreation outside of the winter would be expanded.
Some in North Ogden have expressed concern about the impact to the city of the proposed expansion. The report said Eden, on one end of the gondola line, would serve as a "full-service base area, with all recommended programming and guest services," as well as ski schooling facilities. The North Ogden location, at the other end of the gondola line, would serve mainly as "a staging area," catering mainly to visitors going up the mountain and returning at the end of the day.
Still, the report also noted that transportation services and lodging could develop adjacent to the two base areas. "Again, this is based simply on looking a comparable resorts, and realizing that hotel brands and other possible developments would likely occur in the presence of a successful mountain resort," the report said.
Coleman said he's in the process of lining up investors. He didn't offer a comprehensive price tag, but said gondolas as proposed can cost around $25 million while ski lifts can cost around $5 million each.