City Council passes on Steamboat Ski Area’s offer to serve as consultant at Howelsen Hill
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Executives from Steamboat Springs’ big ski hill will not help the city of Steamboat Springs manage its little ski hill this winter.
Steamboat Springs City Council on Tuesday said “thanks but no thanks” to a $225,000 proposal from Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. that would have had the bigger ski area trying to help the city find a way to make Howelsen Hill more profitable.
Some council members questioned the value of the contract, while others said the city had simply run out of time to get something together before the ski season kicked off.
Councilwoman Lisel Petis said she heard from community members who were initially excited about the ski area’s offer to help but then found themselves angry after hearing the resort wanted more than $200,000 for it.
Petis didn’t think the city should pursue the contract.
“For us to pay the ski resort to try out the hill for a year” to see if they want to take it over in the future doesn’t make sense, Petis said.
Petis said the city had put out a request for a new operator of the ski hill, not a consultant.
Ski Corp. President Rob Perlman said it would take a lot of time, energy and resources to turn Howelsen from a subsidized ski hill to one that made a profit.
“We thought it was a fair proposal,” he said.
He also expressed skepticism about an idea to charge only $1 for lift tickets at Howelsen that was floated by Council President Walter Magill.
“We aren’t successful at $20 lift tickets today,” Perlman said. “I think you could give it away and still have our problem.”
The ski resort had offered to install a general manager and an assistant general manager to oversee Howelsen operations. The resort would also have generated a report at the end of the consulting contract.
Council members had different opinions about whether to pursue a consulting contract with the ski area next year.
Councilwoman Robin Crossan wanted the city to keep the dialogue with the resort open with the intention of possibly coming to an agreement in time for next winter.
Other council members said there were still too many unknowns on the ski hill, including whether a chair lift will be replaced, to pursue an agreement at this time.
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