The investors that own Snow King and the commercial land at the base recently submitted massive development proposals to the Town Council and Forest Service. They ignored hundreds of community members who showed up at two public meetings this spring and turned in basically the same proposal they presented last year.
We want Snow King to succeed as our Town Hill, not a private amusement park. We want a bright future for skiing for our youth, for the Ski Club, and for everyone who wants to enjoy our great backyard. We’ve been working hard all along to support community voices and hold the investors accountable to our community values. We’re not stopping now, and we hope you won’t either.
Did community input matter?
The investors and their PR firm want you to believe their proposal is based on community input, and regularly say so in Guest Shots and in spin on a pretend-grassroots Facebook page. But let’s look at what really happened. At the Town’s public meeting in January, when the facilitator asked for community members’ real opinions, our staff watched as a Snow King employee at our table read aloud from a 3-page “supporter talking points” sheet, apparently prepared by their PR firm. So much for authentic community engagement.
Then, they tried to push their proposal through the Town’s stakeholder group, which was supposed to come up with a series of balanced compromises (read our explainer here). Instead, Snow King’s manager argued for each aspect of their existing proposal, and at the end tried to get their entire original proposal included as a scenario. Luckily, the stakeholders said no.
Unluckily, the stakeholders included some projects that were totally rejected by the majority of people at the public meetings – like landing the gondola in the town ballpark. But the stakeholders didn’t go as far as Snow King’s investors wanted. The stakeholders didn’t support ziplines, or a massive boundary expansion. They limited boundary expansions, when allowed at all, to the new road itself (see maps below*). As the stakeholder facilitator wrote:
Among the more challenging isuses [sic] that the group addressed were boundary expansion, road development, and zipline… The group explored several ideas and options related to gains for Snow King and for the community but did not agree on or converge on a particular outcome. [PDF page 122 in May 21 Town Council workshop agenda packet]
Not deterred, the investors ignored the stakeholders and basically submitted their original massive proposal anyway: a massive boundary expansion and roadcut east and west (a slippery slope for future trail clearcutting above Rodeo Drive); a huge footprint expansion onto the backside; a tour bus and zipline landing zone in our town ballpark; a top-to-bottom zipline; and hundreds more condos at the base. Even worse, they’re trying to unwind the deal from 2000 where they got a huge commercial upzone in exchange for agreeing to set up the Snow King Resort Master Association (SKRMA), charge dues on all the commercial / hotel development at the base, and use it as “the financial and operational platform” for the ski resort (they never followed through – and now want to delete their responsibilities entirely).
To be fair, they changed some totally outrageous amusement development proposals (like building three ziplines across the face of our Town Hill) to just medium outrageous amusement development proposals (like building one zipline from top to bottom). It’s a classic negotiating tool – ask for so much that anything scaled back looks like a generous compromise. And they added a couple good ideas from the balanced vision we shared in January, like a new Ski Club facility and a second ice rink.
And, after the Parks & Rec Board did respond to community input and said “no” to the ballpark-takeover, Snow King’s manager is presenting new options to preserve the ballpark. We’re glad to see that change, and especially applaud the Parks & Rec Board for standing up for our community!
We hope that Town Council and the Forest Service will also stand up for us when it comes to the real bones of the proposal, like huge expansions, new lifts in wildlife habitat, hundreds of condos. So far, the investors’ proposal on all those critical topics is the same as it’s been all along. Don’t just take our word for it – compare their February 2017 map with their final proposal maps:
Ultimately, the question isn’t whether they’ve reduced a terrible proposal into a somewhat-less-terrible proposal. It’s whether what they’re proposing now is good for our community.
We want Snow King to succeed, and we believe they can do it without destroying what we love about our Town Hill. Please let the investors know they can do better, and please let our Town Council, County Commission, and Forest Service know what you think. Our Town Hill depends on you.
How to weigh in
- Sign up here to join other friends and neighbors fighting for our Town Hill, or ask firstname.lastname@example.org for info on key upcoming meetings
- Submit “Scoping Comments” for the Forest Service’s environmental impact statement by September 13. Come to our Snow King Study Halls to learn more about how to submit effective comments.
- Contact Town Council and County Commission with a handy email form, or personally email them at email@example.com, SKengagement@jacksonwy.gov and commissioners@tetoncountywy.
* compare the boundary lines in the stakeholder maps to the proposal maps…