A new party wants to sit down at the negotiating table for the Mount Spokane ski resort operation concession.
Riplinger & Associates of Seabeck, Wash., joins the local Mount Spokane 2000 study group in asking the state parks commission to join the negotiations for the concession.
Bill Riplinger said his group of investors wants to make the ski resort more responsive to the needs of Spokane skiers.
“It has to be profitable to the people running the area, but it’s also got to be something that the people around Spokane can really use and enjoy,” Riplinger said. “We think we can do the job pretty well over there.”
The state accepted proposals to negotiate from interested parties until last Friday. The local group offered to help the state create a non-profit corporation to run the ski resort.
Riplinger, whose firm handles construction contracts and management consulting, said he needs assurance that his group has a chance at the concession before he proceeds with negotiations.
“My understanding is that the current concessionaire can beat any competing bid by $1 and retain the concession,” he said. “We need to make sure that we have a fair chance at it.”
The parks commission continues to negotiate with the current concessionaire, Mount Spokane Ski Corp. More negotiations are planned before the month ends, said Wayne McLaughlin, contracts manager for state parks.
Time is becoming a factor in the negotiations, McLaughlin admitted. The state wants to make its decision to keep Mount Spokane Ski Corp. or choose another operator for the next 20 years before the current contract expires in early June.
The Mount Spokane 2000 group expects a letter from McLaughlin asking for more information on the five-page proposal it sent March 1, said Ted Stiles, group spokesman.
Riplinger said his group has Spokane ties and a strong skiing background. Some of the partners have experience with Crystal Mountain Ski Resort in Western Washington, he said.
Stiles’ group wants a broad-based group of skiers to oversee the facilities on Mount Spokane. That does not mean that the group members themselves would end up running the mountain, Stiles said.
Both parties see the price of Mount Spokane Ski Corp.’s current equipment as a stumbling block for the concession. A new concessionaire would need to buy out the equipment from the current operator, and the state appraised the equipment at $3.5 million.
“That’s a pie in the sky number,” Riplinger said. Arbitration might be the only way to arrive at an agreeable price, he said.
McLaughlin said there wasn’t a firm time table to starting negotiations with the Mount Spokane 2000 group or Riplinger. “We’re looking for a little more information before we proceed,” he said.