NORTH OGDEN — The proposal to expand the Nordic Valley ski resort in the Eden area and add a 4.3-mile mountain-crossing gondola connecting the facility with North Ogden is generating a lot of heat and questions.
James Coleman, managing partner of Nordic Valley’s operator, Mountain Capital Partners, variously faced applause and shouts at a packed, standing-room-only gathering on Tuesday on the controversial proposal.
Amid queries focused on the possible repercussions of the proposal — more traffic, new resort development, ski runs in Coldwater Canyon, a gondola lift station on North Ogden’s east side — he acknowledged the worries of some wanting to keep the city as it is.
“That’s certainly understandable,” he said.
But he also noted the tax revenue the project would bring to the area, the potential growth and the increased skiing options for the public. Apart from the gondola, plans call for the expansion of the resort from 140 acres to around 2,800 acres and the addition of numerous new ski runs and lifts.
“There’s a lot of reasons why people would want something different. We’re certainly not wanting to hurt anybody,” he said.
Mountain Capital Partners organized Tuesday’s meeting at the North Branch library in North Ogden, aiming to answer questions and generate input on the plans. Around 200 people attended, with more having to be turned back due to lack of space. A similar meeting on Monday in Ogden drew around 70 people.
Right off the bat Tuesday, Coleman emphasized that project development is in its infancy, with many steps — including review of the plans by U.S. Forest Service officials — still yet to be completed or even started. He was joined at a table at the front of the meeting by reps from the U.S. Forest Service and Ski Utah, which promotes the state’s ski industry.
“This has not already happened... This is very early on in the project and we’re just trying to get information out,” get feedback, he said.
Nevertheless, plenty had concerns. Acting as emcee, John Youngren of Love Communications, which is assisting Nordic Valley, read the questions and comments submitted by those at the meeting, some of them critical: “You don’t live in our community. How can you say what will be good for us?”
Another project foe asked from the crowd what needed to be done to stop the plans. “How do you bring this to a screeching halt? Or are we going to vote on it?” she said, generating applause.
About a dozen critics even gathered outside the library where the meeting was held, waving protest signs to passing autos on 2600 North, generating a few honks.
“We don’t want it, we won’t take it. Over my dead body,” said Diana Lea, who worries the development will mar Coldwater Canyon. She held a sign reading, “No gondola on our mtn.”
Stan Kippen, another demonstrator, expressed concern about runaway development.
“Just have to look south to what we don’t want,” he said, alluding to the Salt Lake City area. “They’ve been developing faster than they should.”
Inside the meeting, though, Coleman held his own and seemed not to be deterred, taking all questions and answering the critics.
“I’ve never had a project not be successful and I’m not going to start with this one,” he said.
And he indicated that the plans weren’t simply a pipe dream. Nordic Valley, the smallest ski resort in the area, needs something to improve its financial viability.
“It’s not sustainable in its current size,” he said.
At the same time, not everyone had tough words.
“We’re excited,” Barbara Williams, a project fan and North Ogden resident, said after the meeting.
WATER, ANNEXATION, RESORTS
The questions ran the gamut, several focused on the water the expanded ski facility would require to operate. Coleman said Nordic Valley has water rights, would seek out additional water rights but wouldn’t create new water rights.
In response to other questions, he said no definitive plans were in the works for resorts in the North Ogden area. Project boosters are more focused on developing the varied elements of the ski resort. Likewise, annexation by North Ogden of the Nordic Valley complex near Eden is not part of the plans.
“I’m not pushing for that,” he said.
Because some had to be turned back back from Tuesday’s meeting, Youngren said additional informational meetings would be held.
Reporter Leia Larsen contributed to this story.