At Monday’s special Town Council meeting to reconsider Snow King Resort’s Special Event request for a new for-profit snowmobile race in town, the Town Council reversed its previous decision and has approved the two-day event in early December.
The snowmobile race will disrupt our community for five days with a two-day event, bringing a crowd of 5,000 people (for reference, between 1,000-2,000 people attend the JH Live shows in the summer), causing major detours and parking diversion, including noise into the evening, and requiring additional work from Town’s public works department and other town employees. In addition, many areas around Snow King are closed seasonally to protect critical winter wildlife habitat, and no study was done to determine the impact this event will have on our area wildlife that rely on those closed, protected habitats to survive the winter.
A few weeks ago, Town Council voted no in a 3-2 vote. We applauded Mayor Pete Muldoon and Councilmembers Jim Stanford and Morton-Levinson in their original decision to reject the event. We were especially impressed by Councilor Morton-Levinson’s statement that while people in her industry would profit from this event, it was not in the best interest of our community – so she voted no.
Unfortunately, last week Councilor Hailey Morton-Levinson requested that Town Council “reconsider,” or vote again. Last night, after citing her original concerns including alcohol sales, late night event times, impacts on public works, and other disruptive components to the event, she said her concerns were addressed, and she changed her vote – flipping the balance to be in favor, and allowing the event.
This is not an issue about whether a snowmobile race is appropriate for our community or about the merits of snowmobiling at all, but instead a question of whether a large, disruptive event is necessary in town – and having an honest discussion of who ultimately will benefit from it.
In the context of a years-long discussion over how Snow King hasn’t been appropriately involving the public in planning for the future of our Town Hill, it is disconcerting to see our elected representatives vote with Resort managers instead of with our community.
While the event has been slightly scaled back and will have a smaller impact on our community than Snow King initially wanted, we are still disappointed that three of our Town Councilors (Don Frank, Bob Lenz, and Hailey Morton-Levinson) voted for Snow King instead of for the community.
Ultimately, we agree with Councilor Stanford when he said we must be good stewards of this place. That includes considering both our human and wildlife neighbors when deciding which events are appropriate to hold in town, and ensuring that proper procedure and protocol is followed to approve those events. We appreciate Councilor Stanford and Mayor Muldoon (who was absent for the final vote but indicated he wouldn’t change his mind) voting for the community.