By Jim Stanford on May 10, 2012
For weeks I’ve been hearing — via tips from readers — that Snow King Resort has been or is nearing a deal to be sold. Managing partner Manuel Lopez has been typically coy, either denying rumors or not responding to calls.
The News&Guide reports: “The plan to keep the ski hill financially viable focuses on five areas: an activity center near the hotel, a camp near the top of the Rafferty lift, a gateway into the property at the corner of Cache Street and Snow King Avenue, a yurt area on the south side of the mountain and another activity area at the summit.”
While it is heartening to hear the resort aims to honor its commitment to providing recreational facilities — after initially seeking to divest itself of the ski area while selling the hotel and development rights — this latest plan is a bit of a head scratcher.
Are zip lines and such really going to generate enough revenue to offset an annual operating loss purported to be $500,000 to $800,000 and debt exceeding $10 million? Although I like the idea of more yurts around Jackson Hole, a lot of the proposed amenities sound like gimmicks.
(Popular video of alpine coaster in Europe)
Maybe I’m naive and out of step with the latest trends in recreation. After all, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort is considering building a zip line. Recently a reader expressed concern about the “Disneyfication” of Jackson Hole. Do we really want this stuff on our Town Hill?
It’s a shame the town rolled over during negotiations between the resort and the community nonprofit Friends of Snow King. If the mayor and council had been willing to put the resort’s development rights on the table, instead of looking to bail out Lopez, we might already have conservation easements on some of the property at the base and a nonprofit running the ski hill.
The town has little in the way of regulatory authority over what sort of recreational amenities the resort can build. The Forest Service has final say, but recently passed legislation makes it easier for ski resorts to build these kinds of facilities.
To be clear: I live near and love the King, and I want the recreational part of the resort to succeed. That’s why I bought a pass last winter. But the community has to stay vigilant to make sure any deal is fair and keep our public land from being turned into an amusement park.