Snow King gets its zipline, master plan finally approved

JACKSON, Wyo. — Snow King now knows what it can and can’t do as town officials finally signed off on the resort’s master plan for expansion at the town council’s regular meeting earlier this week.

The drawn-out process grew heated at times. More than one elected official apologized Monday to the applicants for negotiations that occasionally got emotional.

“I want to thank the applicant,” Mayor Pete Muldoon said. “You’ve spent a lot of time in here. We’ve spent a lot of time in here with you. It hasn’t always been pleasant. But sometimes that’s how it goes when you spend six hours in a meeting with people together.”

Jim Stanford, the council’s longest-serving member, has been most outspoken in holding the applicant’s feet to the fire during the planning process. Stanford’s hindsight stretches back to a time when the resort was kept afloat by a well-liked local legend in the late Manuel Lopez, along with community investors.

Now, years later, the playing field has changed. New ownership at the resort has $13M plans for upgrades on the town hill even while private development in and around the base has been booming.

Stanford has questioned everything.

“Who is SKRMA?” Stanford demanded to know at Monday’s meeting. The group (Snow King Resort Master Association), which essentially acts as the governing body for Snow King’s varied property owners and interests, has remained unnamed to date. Stanford said if he was to negotiate terms with a legal entity like SKRMA, he deserved to know who he was dealing with.

The senior councilman has also drilled the King’s men on parking and sidewalk issues, the future of KM 6— a potentially lucrative parcel at the base of the hill currently serving as overflow parking and staging for construction — and encroachments onto Phil Baux Park where a proposed gondola is to land.

Stanford relented some at the close of discussions but would not give Snow King his vote, saying this plan was at least better than the outdated 2000 master plan, but the community was still being shortchanged. He pointed specifically to the ice rink, which was a public-private partnership that has now become completely public. The 4-1 decision to approve Snow King’s master plan showed Stanford in opposition.

Mayor Muldoon admitted he didn’t get everything he wanted, nor did the community, but such was the nature of the give-and-take surrounding negotiations. The mayor said he was willing to trade development for housing. He also reluctantly agreed to one of the resort’s more contentious add-ons: a zipline.

“I think the community has not been excited about a zipline… anywhere. They’ve said very clearly they didn’t want it in Phil Baux Park,” Muldoon said. “But I think they’ve also said, generally speaking, they are okay with the zipline if the gondola is built and operated.”

The town moved 4-1 to work with Snow King to amend the Resort District Master Plan, to come back for final consideration February 3.

Snow King still needs Forest Service approval to move forward. That is expected to come later this year.

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