Should the town of Jackson make Snow King an offer it can’t refuse?

JACKSON HOLE, WYO – A posit by former town manager Bob McLaurin in a Guest Shot for the News&Guide last week has the community buzzing about what could be a game-changer concerning Snow King.

What if the community that has professed profound affinity for its town hill ponied up and bought it?

Bob McLaurin

It’s not the first time the notion has been floated but it is a statement of significance considering the source. For decades, McLaurin served as an insider to the machinations of Snow King ownership and how it interacted with the town of Jackson. It was a previous ownership group headed by the late-Manuel Lopez but still, McLaurin has been there, almost done that.

In 2011, McLaurin led a stakeholder group that explored what a town takeover might look like. During a period of financial hardship for Lopez, town leaders made certain considerations and extensions for the ski hill including the ice arena. Perhaps no one has more insight than McLaurin into what it would take to get a deal done with the current Snow King ownership group.

But it would take money. McLaurin has proposed using a Special Purpose Excise Tax as a means to jumpstart a war chest for a possible purchase.

But would Max Chapman go for it?

Buckrail asked Snow King General Manager Ryan Stanley whether the notion would be entertained at all or is it a nonstarter?

“We are headed down a path toward fulfilling our goals with a new master plan and future for Snow King. That is our focus at this time,” was all Stanley would disclose.

Town administrators also are tight-lipped about changing course now in the middle of a belabored master plan amendment process.

Howelsen Hill Ski Area (Courtesy)

A publicly owned and operated ski resort is not unheard of. A few notable models exist today. Howelsen Hill Ski Area is often cited as a successful example of a town-owned resort. Bogus Basin (owned by Boise), Hogadon (owned by Casper), and back east, Gore,Whiteface, and Bellaeyre are all owned by the state of New York.

It has worked and can work, and where better than a place already referred to as “town hill.”

Frustration over the current process has some in the community eager to explore all options.

Longtime Buckrail follower and frequent commenter Martina Bello suggested, “Is it time to shut down this ill-fated Master Plan amendment and buy the town hill?”

Good question. It’s on a lot of minds right now.

With the community abuzz about Snow king local Photographer & Videographer David Gonzales put together this short video about Snow King, explaining some underlying financial issues that should be settled before we continue any discussion about new restaurants, roads, ziplines, or gondolas landing in our baseball field.

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