Well Connected? Vail's Proposed 27-Minute Gondola

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Avon/BC Gondola

Avon, CO, Feb. 28, 2001--Avon residents may decide on a $6 million bond issue in the November election as part of the town's cost to build a $37 million gondola connecting Avon with Beaver Creek Resort.

Representatives of Vail Resorts, which owns Beaver Creek, told the Avon Town Council that the proposed gondola would not happen without a contribution from the town. Jim Donohue, chief financial officer for Vail Resorts, pitched the project to the town: "When people have access to a lift, the community in which they are staying or living becomes more attractive."

Mayor Judy Yoder countered that the $6 million price tag would be a very hard sale to Avon taxpayers.

As proposed, the estimated 27-minute ride on the gondola - the longest in the country - would start in Avon with stops at the Tarnes (a Vail Resorts employee housing project), Bachelor Gulch Village, Strawberry Park, and finally Beaver Creek Village. Officials view the gondola as a transportation alternative to the daily busses that bring skiers to the resort.

Vail Resorts and the Beaver Creek Metro District will both pay $11 million for the project, and the Bachelor Gulch Metro District will provide $9 million. According to an agreement between Vail Resorts and the Bachelor Gulch Metro District, if a gondola is not built Vail Resorts must pay a $3 million fine to Bachelor Gulch.

If the gondola meets approval, the Strawberry Park Express lift would be removed and placed in Larkspur Bowl, which is currently served by a triple chair.

The gondola may not run at night or during the summer due to an agreement with President Gerald R. Ford, whose house sits underneath the proposed route. "That agreement goes back to 1980 when the resort was built," said Jim Roberts, director of mountain operations for Beaver Creek Resort. President Ford was the first resident of Beaver Creek.

Vail Resorts plans to start building during the summer of 2002.