Summary:The meeting ran out of steam. Residents were concerned about potential traffic impact and the possibility that Eaglecrest could become overrun by tourists, but it wasn’t particularly hostile.
The possibility allowing school children to make use of some of the summer infrastructure came up.
“I don’t know why we wouldn’t” Scanlan said.
He also reiterated he wants it to continue to be a space that appeals to locals.
“I really do want it to be like, ‘Eaglecrest, where locals come to play,’” Scanlan said. “Seeing your friends up here might make the other commercial visitors fade away.”
He said trails would not be fee based.
The necessity of a carrying capacity for Eaglecrest is being discussed.
“We really need to nail that down,” Ellefson said.
Scanlan said he understands the concern.
Dog-use is now the topic being discussed.
Scanlan said there may need to be a leash requirement on some trails.
Community members are voicing support for the keeping Eaglecrest friendly to locals.
“I’m sort of tired of tourism taking over every quiet place in this community,” said Merry Ellefson.
Scanlan said it will be a different experience but hopefully still a fulfilling one.
“How can collaborations occur with those of us who have stakes in this area?” Ellefson said.
She suggested the possibility of Audubon Society guided bird walks.
“I love that idea,” Scanlan said.
The tone of conversation has been more concerned than directly opposed to the proposed idea.
“I have asked myself honestly, and I don’t know the answer, would I rather have Eaglecrest shutdown or would I rather have it be another hotbed of industrial tourism?” Ellefson said.
With the vision laid out, residents are making comments.
Margo Waring said limiting access to small, electric buses would be ideal.
“It’s the great big huge ones that cause problems for people that drive on the highway,” Waring said. “Being a leader in that would be really great.”
Scanlan said solar power for the proposed summit lodge is something that’s being considered.
“I look forward to more of the hiking trails, particularly if they’re not too steep,” Waring said.
She said it’s important to keep in mind a significant portion of Juneau’s population is aging.
“The needs of that group are a little different and a little less charging than maybe expert-level mountain biking,” Waring said.
While money generated by a potential summer adventure center would help pay for improvements and wages at Eaglecrest, Scanlan said he’d like it to also be invested in other recreation-related efforts.
“I’d love to see a community investment fun,” Scanlan said.
Scanlan has acknowledged that increased traffic is a realistic concern — 12 to 18 buses are a possibility.
However, he said Eaglecrest has the infrastructure and space to absorb the possible crowds and, traffic aside, it’s unlikely to negatively impact nearby residents.
“It’s not like some of the other high-impact tourist attractions,” Scanlan said. “Every single person in Juneau can hear the helicopters.”
Scanlan described the proposed mountain coaster in more detail than it’s been discussed in.
It’s essentially a cart on a steel track propelled by gravity that tops out at 27 mph. The cart would be equipped with a hand brake, so that riders don’t have to travel at the top speed. The cart would also have collision-avoiding software installed that could bring a cart to a complete stop if it detected another cart on the track.
Scanlan said low snowfall totals over the past five years plays a big part in encouraging Eaglecrest to try to diversify revenue streams.
He said increasing revenue to provide more compensation for Eaglecrest employees is also a goal.
“My staff hasn’t had a pay increase in six years,” Scanlan said. “There’s just no financial capacity.”
“That’s kind of framing up the why’s,” he added.
Scanlan is starting the night with a presentation of Eaglecrest’s plan, then take comment from North Douglas residents.
Head count is now up to seven people, a can of LaCroix and a pack of Oreos.
Eaglecrest Ski Area wants to expand its summertime offerings to include a mountain coaster, lift-assisted mountain biking, a new gondola, a rope course and zip line, and is starting the road toward that with a series of meetings.
Tonight, General Manager Dave Scanlan is meeting with members of the North Douglas Neighborhood Association to discuss what the proposed expansion would mean for North Douglas.
So far, six people are present.
• Contact reporter Ben Hohenstatt at (907)523-2243 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @BenHohenstatt.