This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
The Utah ski industry's long-time dream of using a series of lifts to connect Park City's three resorts with two in Big Cottonwood Canyon and two in Little Cottonwood Canyon feels inevitable.
The Utah Legislature endorsed the Interconnect concept. The four Republican members of the state's congressional delegation have introduced legislation that would force the U.S. Forest Service to sell just over 30 acres in Big Cottonwood Canyon to the Canadian owners of The Canyons ski area so they can build a gondola to Solitude. And the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce has lined up a number of power brokers to push the deal.
That said, I have yet to hear a convincing argument that SkiLink in particular, and Interconnect in general, are anything more than a marketing gimmick.
There are many unanswered questions:
1. If SkiLink is so environmentally benign, why circumvent the U.S. Forest Service planning process by forcing the government to sell the land the gondola will use to The Canyons?
2. If SkiLink is part of a larger plan to build Interconnect up to seven lifts to connect Park City with the two Cottonwood canyons wouldn't it make sense to force the resorts to do an environmental impact statement on the entire scheme and not just the first lift?
3. What is the source of numbers $50 million in new revenue and 500 new employees numbers that SkiLink proponents say the proposed gondola will add to the economy?
4. The Canyons already offers snow enthusiasts 4,000 skiable acres, 182 runs and 19 lifts, making it one of the largest resorts in North America. So, what is the reason to add Solitude and eventually Brighton, Alta and Snowbird? Why not connect the three Park City-area resorts instead?
5. Utah's Republican politicians always whine about how Washington bureaucrats override local government. So why propose a bill that will force Salt Lake City and County both opposed to SkiLink to follow a mandate from Congress?
6. Proponents say the gondola will reduce traffic in Big Cottonwood Canyon. Isn't there a chance it could increase traffic if those who live in the southern part of Salt Lake Valley can take the shorter drive to Solitude and ride the lift over to Park City?
7. How much will Congress ask The Canyons to pay for more than 30 acres of prime Big Cottonwood Canyon real estate?
8. How many feet would the Gondola be above the Big Cottonwood Canyon highway? Is there any concern for the aesthetics of an ugly gondola going over a scenic byway?
9. What's in this for local skiers? With The Canyons charging almost $100 a day to ski, is this just another step to price locals out in favor of out-of-staters?
10. Finally, how big is big enough? There is too much commercial development in Big and Little Cottonwood canyons as it is. When is it time to tell our ski resorts that enough is enough?
firstname.lastname@example.org Officials rise to the challenge
Online now • A dozen municipal leaders all over the Salt Lake valley are changing their diet and exercise habits as part of the My Heart Challenge. Find out how Taylorsville Mayor Russ Wall and others are doing it. • http://www.sltrib.com/neighborhood