The newest version of an expansion plan at Granite Peak looks similar to the one proposed more than two years ago, but includes changes that planners expect will appease critics.
Granite Peak owner Charles Skinner: The updated design has a lighter impact on Rib Mountain State Park and will employ more efficient lighting and snowmaking systems.
The latest proposal would lease another 155 acres from Rib Mountain State Park, mostly for beginner and intermediate runs, in addition to the current 405 acres leased. The updated design has a lighter impact on park hiking trails and will employ more efficient lighting and snowmaking systems, says Granite Peak owner Charles Skinner.
The update also minimizes altering the landscape. Narrower and more natural designs for the new runs mean the tree cutting and groundwork will affect only 13 acres compared to nearly 50 acres affected by the original plan. A new high speed chairlift and chalet with a ski school are also planned.
The expansion, which Skinner says is necessary to compete with other nearby ski areas with more runs, has drawn criticism from area residents who don’t want to see any more changes to the park. The group Leave Rib Mountain Alone has collected some 3,500 petition signatures.
Project Manager Peter Biermeier says Granite Peak invited the Leave Rib Mountain Alone group to Wednesday’s meeting. Many of the group’s concerns are addressed under the new plan, Biermeier says. The ski runs will cross only a small portion of the park’s trails, he says, and those trails will remain open, except during ski season. The ski runs will be packed with snow, Skinner says, and won’t alter the hiking trails.
A separate plan to build a ski lodge on top of the mountain, is still in the works. Skinner says those lodges would be built over time. According to Granite Peak’s media release, the expansion will nearly double the number of jobs at the operation to 380 and boost the hill’s economic tourism impact from $25 million a year to $53 million. The expansion project still needs approval by the Department of Natural Resources.