Capital Projects > Timeline > Cross Country Ski Center
Cross Country Ski Center
New Cross Country Ski Center at Tahoe Donner: Cross Country Ski Center has now been approved by Truckee Planning Commission
After years of research, collaboration, plan development, membership review and feedback, the plans for Tahoe Donner’s new Cross Country Ski Center have now been approved by the Truckee Planning Commission. We are encouraged by the recent approval, and appreciate the support of those who attended the hearing, wrote letters of support, and contributed to our growing and vibrant community. Unless we encounter further delays, building construction costs are not anticipated to exceed $4.5 million, which is paid for through the existing Development Fund, and does not require a special assessment. Although the planning and approval process took additional time and we experienced delays to our anticipated construction start, we aim to provide access to trails and limited cross country ski operations in 2014-2015, even if within temporary structures as necessary.
With overwhelming community support and Planning Commission approval during the May hearing, we are excited for the opportunity to make long overdue improvements this summer at the new Cross Country Ski Center and parking lot, which are designed to improve operational and energy efficiencies, while implementing necessary protections to our natural resources.
NEW TAHOE DONNER CROSS COUNTRY SKI CENTER
Feature story – Feb. 2014 Tahoe Donner News
After years of research, collaboration, plan development and membership review and feedback, the plans for Tahoe Donner’s new Cross Country Ski center are on the verge of final approval.The final plans and application have been submitted to the Town of Truckee building and planning departments, and will be reviewed by the town Planning Commissioners in the spring of 2014, one of the final approvals needed before construction begins.
In the early 70s, when the current structure was built, it was designed solely as an equestrian barn. It was later modified to handle a wintertime cross country operation and subsequently expanded multiple times to sufficiently accommodate the growing popularity of Nordic activities.
“We are known for putting out a great product, with reasonably priced tickets, quality lessons, superb terrain, and trail grooming beyond compare,” said Sally Jones, Tahoe Donner Cross Country Ski Center manager. “Over the years, Tahoe Donner Cross Country has grown more steadily than others due to our quality grooming, variety of trails, and, in part, due to the easy access available to the large number of Tahoe Donner Association members,” she added.
All signs point to increasing growth of the sport of cross country skiing. Even with other distractions—which are numerous in our recreational community—the Nordic world continues to gain popularity. The advent of skate skiing in the 80s, the evolution of equipment design, the national trend toward personal fitness and a societal need to get back to nature in wild mountain surroundings have all contributed to the continued growth of the sport over the last three decades. More signs of strength include sell-out youth programs both at Tahoe Donner and region-wide, well-attended weekly adult Masters and ladies groups, and the über-popular middle and high school Nordic ski teams. Then there’s the relatively new Far West Elite Team — a group of athletes devoted to improving their own results while also supporting both the development of local junior skiers and the quality of Master skiing. Add to this the fact that the U.S. Women’s Cross Country Ski Team, now making international headlines, has become a success story in its own right. No wonder the sport is flourishing!
As the sport of cross country skiing continues to thrive at Tahoe Donner, current usage has outgrown the facility. With limited space for retail, rental equipment, administrative offices, and a small kitchen for food and beverage services, Tahoe Donner Cross Country Ski Center has operated at or above capacity during peak periods over the last several years.
For many years, Tahoe Donner management, staff and residents alike have been engaged in ongoing discussions regarding a new building to replace the dual-use Cross Country/Equestrian Center facility. When the 2030 general plan was approved by the Tahoe Donner board of directors in 2011, a new, improved facility moved higher up on the priority list. With input gathered from town hall meetings, General Plan Committee meetings, demographic surveys, and direction from the steering committee, management began to form an outline of the desires and needs for a new structure to meet the changing and growing needs of the community.
According to Forrest Huisman, director of capital projects at Tahoe Donner, the first step was to create a wish-list of features for the project. Topping the list were a passholder locker room, expanded rental operation, larger kitchen, expanded retail space, more seating both inside and out, a new multi-purpose room for educational purposes, and ample room for programs during winter and summer operations. Other requirements included better parking and improved accessibility.
During the formal planning phases, Tahoe Donner began to work with local consultants, planners, and researchers including Blue Rock Development out of Incline Village, Nev., SCO Planning and Engineering from Grass Valley, Calif., and local Truckee firms Kelly Biological Consulting and Dale Cox Architects, among others, to bring the project to fruition.
The team synthesized all the input and began working on detailed schematic drawings. “For the architectural vision, we created plans for a mountain lodge with timbers, stone, and wood siding that reflects and contributes to the neighborhood and our mountain location,” Huisman explained. The energy-efficient building was also designed to be environmentally conscious. “We recognize that the project is surrounded by wetland zones, so our architects and consultants have proceeded in ways that prevent parking lot runoff in order to improve the future water quality of Alder Creek.”
In March 2013, upon completion of the schematic design phase, management presented project information, draft floor plans, and other drawings for additional member input at a series of public meetings. Plans were then revised and submitted to the Town of Truckee to begin the final approval process. The final step in this process will be the Planning Commissioners review, next month.
“We’re very excited about the potential of a larger, more efficient space to be able to service our guests,” said Miguel Sloan, Tahoe Donner’s director of operations. “The new facility will offer an improved experience for all of our customers, both winter and summer,” he added.
The center is designed to continue to be a public facility for the greater Truckee community, provide a training hub for school ski teams and season-long youth and adult programs in the winter, plus a family-friendly equestrian and mountain biking center in the summer. Both seasons allow access to the extraordinary trail system of Tahoe Donner and the remote beauty of Euer Valley.
The new center will also be a key venue capable of attracting larger sporting events—such as last spring’s SuperTour international Nordic
racing event—bringing additional tourism dollars to the entire Truckee region. Events like this deliver trickle-down revenue to the dining, lodging and retail sectors of our community, and provide exposure on a larger scale that continues to keep Truckee on
The project, estimated to be approximately $6 million when completed, will be paid for out of the capital funds portion of the association’s budget. Every year, a percent of each member’s annual dues is set aside into the development fund; projects that are identified by the board are eligible for such future funding and paid for from this fund. No special assessment will take place now—or ever—to complete this project.
“Tahoe Donner Cross Country Ski Center is one of the most well-known and respected Nordic centers in the country,” Jones remarked. “This project will transform our operation and enable us to provide an enhanced customer service experience that will equal the quality of our world-class terrain.
“It’s very exciting to be in the final permitting stage,” said Huisman. “All the consulting, research, and planning spent thus far has created a reasonable expectation of moving forward,” he added. The goal is to begin construction in May, with the anticipation of completing the project partially in time to open in November, and the expectation of full completion in 2015. Huisman explained that alternate summer operations are planned to accommodate equestrian and mountain biking use, as well as trailhead parking.
The following text appeared in the March 2013 edition of Tahoe Donner News. Please note, some information regarding review and construction timeline may now be dated. Please refer to the text above for up-to-date information.
Q. Where have we been and what’s next?
A. Starting in January of 2010, Tahoe Donner management and the General Plan Committee, comprised of interested homeowners, Tahoe Donner staff, and no more than two board members, began holding town hall meetings in order to solicit feedback about future capital development in the association. The meetings continued through the spring of that year, and that input, as well as data from the 2009 demographic survey and direction from management was compiled into the 2030 General Plan for the association.
In July of 2012, Huisman sent out an RFP, or request for proposal, to begin the search for an architect based on a scope of work established by our board with input from the General Plan Committee and homeowners. Qualifications were received by local firms; each group presented their artistic vision based on budget, scale, and materiality. After site plans, floor plans, and interior and exterior perspectives from each group were reviewed, Dale Cox Architects was chosen to be the architect of record.
Cox and his team began meeting with a board-approved steering committee to hear their input, desires and needs for the facility in order to develop schematics and floor plan layouts. Huisman says the team has gone through several versions and has finalized a floor plan that meets operational needs.
After collecting public input on the draft floor plan, the next step, according to Huisman, was to start pre-construction services with a general contractor. “This has been a good litmus test. With future construction costs defined, we have a much better perspective on estimated costs for this new facility and have been able to make adjustments as necessary,” he said.
With the latest concept finalized by the board, the team has been meeting with the Town of Truckee and other agencies to define approval requirements since mid 2013. Although Cox notes this process takes time, the Town of Truckee has now added the project application to the Planning Commission Agenda in February 2014.
The goal, said Huisman, is to begin construction in May of 2014 and be ready for early business in December of the same year, with full project completion in early 2015.
Q. Why is the Cross Country Ski Center a priority?
A. The current Cross Country Ski Center has operated at or above capacity during peak periods in recent years. While our terrain can absorb this higher capacity, our facility cannot. The new center will allow us to address customer service issues such as long lines, limited parking, and overcrowded seating areas. In addition, the project includes smart design concepts based on customer and staff feedback and will integrate usage for school teams, young children, and educational purposes.
“Our cross country operation continues to be a popular and well-respected amenity not only in Tahoe, but also within the industry as a whole,” said Sally Jones, manager of Tahoe Donner Cross Country Ski Center. “We really want to make sure what we’re designing is functional and has the right amount of space to accommodate current demand, but also gives us room to grow,” she said, adding that she has been meeting with the architects and the steering committee every other week.
Q. What will the new building look like?
A. “Our vision is to create a mountain lodge with timbers, stone and wood siding. It will be very traditional and fitting for the location and the community,” Cox explained.
Q. Where will the money come from?
A. It’s important to note that no special assessment has or will take place for this project, and that all construction and related costs will be covered by the development fund portion of the association’s budget. A percentage of every Tahoe Donner homeowner’s annual assessment is earmarked for capital projects, and this fund has now grown to a sufficient amount, allowing for the realization of this project. The cost of the new facility is estimated at approximately $6 million, until final construction costs are completed.
Having funds to maintain existing infrastructure, make improvements to buildings and grounds, and build new facilities is a very important component of any homeowners association. For Tahoe Donner, this fund helps to keep our organization viable by preserving the safety and maintenance of our amenities as well as the desirability and resale value of homes in our community.
Q. Are there any environmental sensitivities?
A. The most sensitive component to the project, according to Huisman, is that construction will be constrained on most sides by wetland zones.
“Working within those confines is not only a requirement from our local agencies, but it’s also the right thing to do,” Huisman said, adding that our architects and consultants are confident that we can proceed in ways that will further protect our adjacent wetlands.
Q. When will it be completed?
A. The Cross Country Ski Center should open for the 2014-2015 ski season in late 2014, but because of the time constraints of building the new lodge on the same site of the existing lodge, all areas won’t be fully operational until early 2015.
“We looked at both options – either choosing a site adjacent to the existing facility, and then tearing down the old lodge when the project is complete, or building on the existing footprint,” Huisman explained. “We chose the most efficient and cost-effective approach, but it does put us in the position to be semi-open in late 2014, with full completion in early 2015.”
Despite the partial opening, management and staff plan to minimize potential inconveniences by providing temporary infrastructure to maintain service levels throughout this transition.
Q. Will homeowners have a say in the project?
A. In addition to two town hall meetings held in 2012, homeowner viewpoints (from cross country sub-group meetings) have been considered since the project’s inception. Recommendations from the General Plan Committee, whose meetings are open to all Tahoe Donner homeowners, are also taken into consideration.
To download the latest schematic drawings, click the links below;
- Floor Plan
- Project Application
- Project Overview
- PC Staff Report
- Mitchell Chadwick LLP Letter
If you wish to share your comments of project support with Town Council and Planning Commissioners, as well as Town of Truckee and Tahoe Donner staff, you can reach them all with this email address; supportTDXC@tahoedonner.com. If you have questions for Tahoe Donner staff or the General Plan Committee, feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org.