Eaglecrest Ski Area wants to expand its summer offerings. (Ben Hohenstatt | Juneau Empire)

Eaglecrest Ski Area wants to expand its summer offerings. (Ben Hohenstatt | Juneau Empire)

Empire Live: Eaglecrest Summer Task Force meeting at City Hall

The Task Force is meeting to discuss plans to bring summer activities to Eaglecrest

Summary: The task force believes the project is feasible with some sort of private partnership, whether that’s turning summer operations entirely over to a private company or some kind of partnership. But at the same time members are aware of the sensitivity around the tourism industry with local residents and want to make sure this project will be accepted by locals as well. A date has not yet been set, but the task force acknowledged the need for a public comment meeting to get ideas from the public. Read more here: City debates how to pay for Eaglecrest ‘Adventure Park’

1 p.m.

Cruise lines would buy a certain number of tickets at a discounted price, and then sell the packages on the ship, Bryson says, which is how they can guarantee some number of visitors each year. The problem is, according to Watt, is different cruise lines will have different ideas of what is marketable. Additionally, cruise ships are concerned with where they are able to dock, and want to know that long term, Watt says.

Skagway and Ketchikan have become somewhat uncertain for the cruise ship industry, as those communities figure out how to manage the cruise ship industry.

12:45 p.m.

“What do the people with money need?” Gladziszewski asks as the discussion turns to a feasibility study conducted by a private company. Bryson says the city doesn’t need a private company to tell them that people will want to ride a gondola, what they need is someone to tell them how the numbers works out.

It all comes back to the cruise ship companies, Gladziszewski says, because that’s where most of the summer money will come from. Either the city or any potential developers will be negotiating with cruise ship companies to contract a certain number of visitors to Eaglecrest.

None of the cruise ship companies have said summer operations at Eaglecrest is a bad idea, Watt says, but none of them have come to the table to say they want to sign a contract either. Watt says he doesn’t think the lack of companies coming forward to sign contracts isn’t an indication they won’t in the future.

Members of the task force have stressed that the Adventure Park will be something for locals too, and have already factored in lower prices for Juneau residents into their financial projections.

12:30 p.m.

Scanlan is going through the different models for funding what the task force is calling an “Adventure Park” consisting of a gondola, summit lodge, zip line and mountain coaster. A public private partnership would lower the city’s personnel costs, he says, because some employees would be private employees. That model would also lower the city’s returns because some of the money would go to private operators.

[Task force considers Eaglecrest’s summer plans.]

12:20 p.m.

Gladziszewski opens the meeting by stating bluntly that a purely public funding option will not be discussed. That option would involve a vote for bonds to pay for any project the city wants to undertake at Eaglecrest. She said she wanted to make clear that model is no longer and option. Other task force members say they were under the impression it never actually was, despite it being laid out in the documents.

Eaglecrest General Manager Dave Scanlan jumps in to discuss the varying funding options, including public-private partnerships and co-financing arrangements.

12:05 p.m.

At the last meeting on Dec. 19, the task force looked at ways they could bring summer tourists to Eaglecrest as a way of raising more revenue. A gondola, zip line and mountain biking trails were all ideas floated as attractions that could tap into the tourist market that exists just across the Gastineau Channel.

The last meeting ended with plans to take a closer look at the financials of the proposed plans and discussions of commissioning a feasibility study to vet the plans already drafted by the Eaglecrest board.

The task force consists of Juneau City Assembly members Wade Bryson, Maria Gladziszewski and Carole Triem, City Manager Rorie Watt and Eaglecrest Board members Jonathan Dale, Bruce Garrison and Mike Satre.

• Contact reporter Peter Segall at 523-2228 or psegall@juneauempire.com.

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