March 7, 1995 in Nation/World

Competing Bid Offered For Ski Hill Mount Spokane 2000 Plan Challenges Current Operator

Eric Torbenson Staff writer
 

The Mount Spokane 2000 group wants to negotiate with the state parks commission to create a non-profit corporation to run the ski resort on Mount Spokane.

Instead of the current operator, Mount Spokane Ski Corp., the group says it wants a non-profit corporation run by of all types of skiers to control the mountain.

The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission accepted proposals from interested parties until last Friday. The group sent in its proposal on March 1, so the next move is up to the parks commission.

Wayne McLaughlin, contracts manager for state parks, was in personnel meetings Monday and was not available for comment.

The study group eagerly awaits his reply, said Ted Stiles, president and spokesman for the group of citizens who have followed the issue for two years.

A non-profit operator would plow any profits back into improvements on the hill and give the community greater control of skiing on the hill, he said.

The group has been criticized for being a narrow group of skiers who want the resort to themselves. But Stiles said a non-profit board of directors would be run by all types of skiers - recreational, educational, senior, youth and physically challenged skiers.

“And the non-profit corporation would not necessarily be run by Mount Spokane 2000,” he said. “All we want to do is lend our expertise and experience to making it happen.”

Gregg Sowder of Mount Spokane Ski Corp. was unavailable for comment. The state has been negotiating with Sowder for the next 20-year concession that starts in June.

Mount Spokane Ski Corp. was the only operator to bid on the original proposal. A $3.5 million appraisal of the current operators’ equipment and improvements proved too high for all bidders but the current operator in September.

To find a more reasonable value of what is called the possessory interest, Stiles and the group proposes an arbitration process. Once an agreeable value is reached, final negotiations for the right to run the resort can start, he said.

Finding a new way to value the possessory interest of Mount Spokane Ski Corp. is the biggest stumbling block to getting new management of the mountain, he said.

Under the group’s proposal, the state would end up owning the equipment and improvements at the end of the concession, he said.


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