In an emotional hearing, Clear Creek County’s three-member board voted 2-1 to reject a 5-year-old plan for Eclipse Snow Park, a proposed 12-acre learn-to-ski area near the old St. Mary’s ski area. In the end, the board could not overcome its findings with regards to questions over safe access to the area and the possibility of increased traffic.
County Commissioner Joan Drury, one of two commissioners who voted against Eclipse said, “Fall River Road is one way in and one way out. Doing something to that road to mitigate the dangers of added traffic is almost impossible. For me, it was a safety issue – an extreme safety issue.”
The rejection came during the final development-review hearing, nearly five years after Michael Coors, ancestor to Golden, Colorado-based Coors Brewery founder Adolph Coors, purchased the 284-acre property for $1.65 million. Coors’ initial marketing plan saw the area as a terrain park specific mountain such as Colorado’s Echo Mountain, that would specifically attract younger skiers and snowboarders.
In 2007, county commissioners voted to rezone the property, allowing for a ski area near the remote village of St. Mary’s.
As the plan changed, Coors dropped the terrain park focus in favor of a 12-acre ski area directed at families and beginners. This recent vote served as the final hurdle before Coors could begin construction of a lodge and maintenance building.
Supporters excited about new economic activity in Clear Creek took up one side of the meeting room, and opponents citing traffic concerns on Fall River Road formed the other side.
“We were utterly stunned by their decision,” Coors said. “We’ve been working on this for a long time, and they have been saying ‘yes’ the whole time. They wouldn’t have started an entirely new zoning area and regulation for no reason, but apparently that’s what they did.”
Those skiers who follow the Level 1 Productions films such as “Realtime” and “Turbo” probably will recognize Eclipse Snow Park from segments the film company shot at during private photo shoots at the area.