Courtesy Photo 
This photo shows a gondola in Austria recently purchased by the City and Borough of Juneau for the Eaglecrest Ski Area.

Courtesy Photo This photo shows a gondola in Austria recently purchased by the City and Borough of Juneau for the Eaglecrest Ski Area.

City stuck with extra expensive gondola shipping bill

Assembly agrees to pay more than twice the estimated cost for Eaglecrest lift purchased in Austria.

This story has been updated to note the city did not receive any bids to store the gondola in Austria, not Juneau as originally reported.

Shipping a gondola purchased for Eaglecrest Ski Area from Austria is going to cost the city more than twice as much as estimated — and frustrated Juneau Assembly members and administrators agree there is no choice but to pay.

Also, the city can’t find anyone willing to store the gondola in Austria.

The city signed a $1.34 million contract last month to purchase the 2,430-meter-long Doppelmayr lift built in 1989 from Galsterberg Ski Area. City Manager Rorie Watt told the Assembly at a meeting Wednesday night the original estimate to ship the gondola to Juneau was $400,000, but the lowest bid submitted was from Lynden Logistics for $845,163.50 — and that came after there were no bids by the original deadline that had to be extended.

The only other bid was for about $1.12 million.

In a joint interview during a break, Watt and City Finance Manager Jeff Rogers said there are difficulties accurately estimating shipping costs for such an item, especially given current complications such as a global transport and supply crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mayor Beth Weldon asked Watt if the purchase of the gondola is final — it is and it’s being disassembled in anticipation of arriving in Juneau by May 20 — and what happens if the extra money is not provided?

“We would be in a very difficult position having spent the funds to purchase this gondola,” Watt said. “I cannot think of a good outcome.”

The Assembly approved $500,000 in supplemental funds for the extra shipping and related costs by a 5-2 vote, with Assembly members Carole Triem and Alicia Hughes-Skandijs opposed.

“With money committed what sense does it make not to spend this money tonight….even though I can’t in good conscience put more money toward a process I don’t feel good about in the first place,” said Hughes-Skandijs, who also voted against the purchase of the gondola.

While Triem said “I can’t wait for the day we never have to talk about this again,” the Assembly inevitably is going to face another problem with it soon since the dilemma of where to store it needs to be resolved. There was no discussion about it Wednesday beyond Watt mentioning the absence of bids.

An update was provided on an agreement that may relieve some of the financial sting, as Watt said discussions are progressing with Goldbelt Corp. about providing up to $10 million to help cover installation and operating costs. In exchange, Goldbelt would receive an unspecified portion of revenues during the summer, in anticipation of the gondola and other upgrades turning Eaglecrest into a year-round tourist destination.

“I feel very comfortable that a deal is achievable,” Watt said. He acknowledged “there is some thought among the public there may be a control issue at Eaglecrest,” which is being kept in mind during the discussions.

Contact reporter Mark Sabbatini at mark.sabbatini@juneauempire.com.

More in News

In this Empire file photo, a Princess Cruise Line ship is seen docked in Juneau on Aug. 25, 2021.(Michael Lockett / Juneau Empire file)
Ships in Port for the week of May 15, 2022

This information comes from the Cruise Line Agencies of Alaska’s 2022 schedule.… Continue reading

Teaser
Judge orders board adopt interim redistricting map

The decision comes in a second round of redistricting challenges.

It's a police car until you look closely and see the details don't quite match. (Juneau Empire File / Michael Penn)
Police calls for Tuesday, May 17, 2022

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

In this October 2019 photo, Zac Watt, beertender for Forbidden Peak Brewery, pours a beer during the grand opening for the Auke Bay business in October 2019. Alcoholic beverage manufacturers and dispensers recently came to an agreement  on a bill that could bring live music and extended hours to breweries. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
Of the more than 460 stoOf the more than 460 stocks managed by NOAA, 322 have a known overfishing status (296 not subject to overfishing and 26 subject to overfishing) and 252 have a known overfished status (201 not overfished and 51 overfished). (Courtesy Image / NOAA)
Southeast fisheries hoping for less turbulent waters

Regions and species see wildly variably conditions due to climate and COVID-19, according to two new NOAA reports.

It's a police car until you look closely and see the details don't quite match. (Juneau Empire File / Michael Penn)
Police calls for Saturday, May 14, 2022

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Oil rigs stand in the Loco Hills field along U.S. Highway 82 in Eddy County, near Artesia, N.M., one of the most active regions of the Permian Basin. Government budgets are booming in New Mexico. The reason behind the spending spree — oil. New Mexico is the No. 2 crude oil producer among U.S. states and the top recipient of U.S. disbursements for fossil fuel production on federal land. But a budget flush with petroleum cash has a side effect: It also puts the spotlight on how difficult it is for New Mexico and other states to turn their rhetoric on tackling climate change into reality. (AP Photo / Jeri Clausing)
States struggle to replace fossil fuel tax revenue

Federal, state and local governments receive about $138B a year from the fossil fuel industry.

It's a police car until you look closely and see the details don't quite match. (Juneau Empire File / Michael Penn)
Police calls for Friday, May 13, 2022

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

This photo published in AP World Magazine in Fall 1998 shows Dean Fosdick on election night in Anchorage, Alaska. Fosdick, the Associated Press journalist who filed the news alert informing the world of the Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska, has died. He died April 27, 2022, in Florida at the age of 80. His longtime career with the news service included 15 years as the bureau chief in Alaska. (AP Photo/File)
Longtime AP Alaska bureau chief Dean Fosdick dies at age 80

He filed the news alert informing the world of the Exxon Valdez grounding.

Most Read