Juneau residents, including many current and former employees and leaders at Eaglecrest Ski Area, pack a room at the downtown public library for a meeting of the resort’s board of directors Thursday night. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Juneau residents, including many current and former employees and leaders at Eaglecrest Ski Area, pack a room at the downtown public library for a meeting of the resort’s board of directors Thursday night. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Eaglecrest employees, skiers demand answers from board after ouster of general manager

Board offers few details about reasons during contentious meeting as search begins for new leader.

While Eaglecrest Ski Area’s board of directors is trying to move on with hiring a new general manger, a lot of Juneau residents are demanding an explanation for why the former one was ousted.

About 50 residents overfilled a meeting room at the downtown public library on Thursday night — forcing some to wait outside the room to speak, in order to comply with fire codes — and about 50 more were online for the board’s first meeting following the forced resignation of Dave Scanlan. His resignation after seven years as general manager was announced May 23, following a performance evaluation by the board, and took effect Monday.

Many of those testifying were current or former Eaglecrest employees, or former board members, and some said Scanlan was the best manager since the resort opened in 1975. Craig Brown, who’s worked as an instructor and ski shop employee at the resort starting the 1990s, said Scanlan has been a close friend going back 25 years when they were helping develop a ski area on the Kenai Peninsula.

“I watched his ascendancy through those ranks and his coming here was a godsend,” Brown said. “This mountain relies on the snowmaking system that he put in single-handedly, had the vision for and created out of a budget with money that was sitting there. Our mountain eight years ago had five days of operation — five days, that was all we operated because we did not have snowmaking in place. He saved our ski seasons for the last six years.”

Chuck Orsborn, a longtime skier at Eaglecrest Ski Area, describes former General Manager Dave Scanlan as the best in the resort’s history during an Eaglecrest Board of Directors meeting Thursday night at the downtown public library. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Chuck Orsborn, a longtime skier at Eaglecrest Ski Area, describes former General Manager Dave Scanlan as the best in the resort’s history during an Eaglecrest Board of Directors meeting Thursday night at the downtown public library. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Thursday’s meeting was confrontational before it began, with some residents criticizing board members for scheduling the meeting in a room with a maximum capacity of 30 given the controversy resulting from Scanlan’s departure. Eaglecrest Board Chair Mike Satre, attending the meeting virtually because he was traveling, told audience members efforts to find a larger space for the meeting such as the Assembly Chambers were unsuccessful because they were unavailable.

Satre also said personnel rules meant he, board members and other officials affiliated with the city-owned ski resort cannot comment on the specifics of why Scanlan was asked for his resignation.

“The board purposely asked for Mr. Scanlan’s resignation so he could set his own narrative upon his departure,” Satre said. “While the lack of details provided to the public is concerned to many it is simply not appropriate to disclose items discussed during the review process. I doubt that there’s anyone in this meeting who doesn’t want the details of their reviews made public.”

The decision was made by the board without pressure from the Juneau Assembly, city manager’s office “or any outside interest in this process,” Satre said.

“There was an evaluation of core competencies and progress for stated goals, evaluation of adherence to policies and procedures, and a look at overall performance over a number of years,” he said. “At the end of this process it was clear that the board and Mr. Scanlan felt very different perceptions about performance and metrics, and the decision was made by the board to part ways.”

Erin Lupro, who was Eaglecrest’s director of snowsports school, rental, retail and repair — who Satre has previously said is the resort’s most senior executive — was appointed by the board as interim general manager. Satre said Thursday the board will not consider her for the position permanently unless she applies for the job.

“As we begin the recruitment process I want to emphasize that while businesses may change, our operational function at Eaglecrest will not during this transition period,” Satre said.

Part of that transition will include the potential appointment of three new members to the seven-member board since two members’ terms expire at the end of the month — including Satre’s — and another member departed last month due to family reasons. Satre said he had intended to step down at the end of this term, but “now that we are in a period of transition I have reapplied to the Assembly and if they want to reappoint me they will.”

“No one on the Eaglecrest staff or this board is irreplaceable,” Satre said. “But what is irreplaceable is the support of the community. I know that the board’s actions have caused that support to be questioned and by many of you who are in the room and on this call who I have a deep and long-lasting respect for.”

The deadline for people interested in applying for the Eaglecrest board has been extended to June 10, with the interview/appointment date set for July 2.

The board’s failure to work with Scanlan on “procedural or personnel issues that were perceived to exist,” especially by seeking more support from city administrators, staff and Assembly members involved with Eaglecrest’s development and operations, was criticized by Dave Hanna, a former Eaglecrest board member.

“Dave was pushed back against every step of the way in everything he tried to do,” Hanna said. ” The board, when I was on it too, we constantly thanked him for his endless energy in doing the work of four people. But when that caused some things to fall by the wayside he was dismissed. I think if the board was not willing to be a stronger voice with the city and given the support that he needed then the board is just as culpable as Dave for any shortcomings that exist.”

Kaity Morgan, who with her husband Evan own Pittman’s Pub located at the ski resort, said “Dave’s resignation feels like a death sentence” because of doubts the mountain can adequately prepare for the upcoming ski season without his presence or an equally capable general manager.

“The lack of staffing at the mountain, the time it takes to hire a new general manager to fill the empty positions, and hiring a competent and qualified general manager to take over during the midst of a gondola project seems like a hefty load for a board who doesn’t seem to be looking out for its constituents.” she said. “I think you should all be forced to resign, but for now I hope you have a contingency plan that you’re ready to roll out to save the season and seasons to come.”

The next steps for hiring a general manager were taken by Eaglecrest’s board during the meeting, with members directing Dallas Hargrave, human resources and risk management director, to have the municipality conduct a search with the possible assistance of outside recruiters. Members also suggested the position offer a starting salary of $100,000 subject to negotiation, noting Scanlan was making $114,000 a year upon his departure.

Eaglecrest’s Human Resources Committee is scheduled to meet at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Assembly Chambers. It’s next full board of directors meeting is scheduled July 11.

• Contact Mark Sabbatini at mark.sabbatini@juneauempire.com or (907) 957-2306.

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