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Possible buyer for Tamarack?

Tamarack Resort head Jean-Pierre Boespflug addresses the Idaho Land Board on Tuesday. Boespflug said the troubled ski and golf resort may have a buyer. (Betsy Russell / The Spokesman-Review)
Tamarack Resort head Jean-Pierre Boespflug addresses the Idaho Land Board on Tuesday. Boespflug said the troubled ski and golf resort may have a buyer. (Betsy Russell / The Spokesman-Review)

The failed Tamarack Resort near Cascade could have a buyer in the offing, Tamarack chief Jean-Pierre Boespflug told the state Land Board today. "We do have a very difficult situation," Boespflug told the board. The ski and golf resort boosted employment in Valley County by 32 percent from 2003 to 2007, but now many of those new workers are unemployed and considering leaving. "That process is still at a point where it is reversible," Boespflug said. But he said Tamarack is approaching "the last 45 to 60 days where something can be done." He said, "The solution is to find a buyer, and a buyer with the expertise and the cash to be able to deal with a property like this," adding, "Me and my partner, we are wiped out ... we want to see a community thrive."

The ski resort is largely on leased state land, which is why the Land Board is among the major "stakeholders" in what happens to the resort.  Boespflug said he and other key parties were "locked up in a tower in L.A. with a ... mediator" last week, and he's anticipating an offer from a buyer. "This is just the beginning of the tunnel here," he said. "As you can imagine, this offer is going to be at pennies on the dollar." He mentioned the possibility of a "short sale" and Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings. "But also there is going to be a process with all of the stakeholders - this buyer is going to want to talk to everybody," including the state. "You are going to be contacted," he told the Land Board, which is chaired by the governor and includes Idaho's top state elected officials.

Secretary of State Ben Ysursa told Boespflug, "I wish you the best of luck. All the way through this, Jean-Pierre, you've been a good partner with us. You had quite a vision, I know it went sour. ... We all want this to succeed somewhere down the line." He noted, however, "We have to protect our interests, obviously."

Boespflug said when inquiries come in from the buyer, they'll have to be answered quickly. The money to employ the last remaining Tamarack employees is "about to run out," he said. "What I can tell you is that we are out of money, either the owner or Credit Suisse. ... That money is going to have to come from the new buyers." He called it "a very high-stakes thing ... in the next 45 days."

Gov. Butch Otter, who referred to the potential buyer as a "white knight," said, "You're asking us to be prepared when this pennies-on-the-dollar offer comes forward, if it comes forward, to be prepared ... to share in the pain." He said he'd like to know "how much pain we're talking about." Boespflug said the state endowment isn't owed any money; its next payment for the lease isn't due until January. He said he's restricted by a confidentiality agreement from discussing the terms of the possible buyout.

After the Land Board meeting, Otter said he's hopeful. The state's endowment only made about $900 a year off the land in question before the ski resort came in, he said; that then jumped up to a quarter-million dollars a year. That's not counting boosts in tax revenues from the development and employment there. "My counsel to the board would be, I think ... we ought to be prepared to share in some of that pain," the governor said. "I think it's a reasonable process for us to go through that, and say,  what can we take in terms of a reduced amount in order to financially help them restructure, and still fulfill our obligation under the Constitution?" The Land Board is charged by the state Constitution to manage state endowment funds for the maximum long-term return to the beneficiaries, who include the state's public schools.

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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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