In this Jan. 6, 2017 photo, Juneau residents participate in the World’s Largest Lesson at Eaglecrest Ski Area. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

In this Jan. 6, 2017 photo, Juneau residents participate in the World’s Largest Lesson at Eaglecrest Ski Area. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

Not just a ski area? Eaglecrest proposes new summertime activities to attract tourists

Some big changes are in the works

Eaglecrest Ski Area might not be an accurate name for much longer.

Eaglecrest General Manager Dave Scanlan and board member Mike Satre presented an idea to the City and Borough of Juneau Assembly Committee of the Whole Monday night that would expand Eaglecrest’s summertime offerings to include a rope course, mountain coaster, expanded zip lining, mountain bike trails and a new gondola lift.

Assembly members were receptive to the idea. Eaglecrest representatives said they would aim to capitalize on the summer cruise ship crowds that come to town.

“This is the single greatest news I have heard come out of Eaglecrest since I’ve lived in Juneau — all 24 years,” said Assembly member Wade Bryson. “I couldn’t be more pleased.”

The matter did not require Assembly action, but Scanlan said it was important to be transparent about the potentially big development and make sure it was something the Assembly would view favorably.

He said he was pleased with Assembly members’ response.

[Bill that would allow Eaglecrest to serve alcohol passes Legislature]

The possible big project would come with an estimated $30-$35 million price tag, Scanlan and Satre said.

Where that money would come from is being worked out, Scanlan said.

He said Eaglecrest could handle the debt without requiring Juneau taxpayers to take on any burden, but a public-private partnership could be possible, too.

Currently, Eaglecrest is subsidized by the city. Scanlan said it receives $700,000 annually for operation and usually another $225,000-$250,000 for deferred maintenance and other things. That tallies up to be just short of $1 million, and Scanlan said this year it helped Eaglecrest to basically break even.

Satre said it’s hoped that increased summer revenue would mean eliminating the need for that subsidy.

“We believe this is an opportunity to pay for itself and generate additional revenue for Juneau,” Satre said.

Additionally, he and Scanlan said it’s hoped making Eaglecrest more attractive to tourists would reduce some of the pressure on other local points of interest.

[Neighborhoods air tourism complaints]

“We kind of see a golden opportunity,” Scanlan said.

Scanlan said that’s something he hoped to have figured out by the fall, when he would hope to return to the Assembly with a more concrete plan.

In the short-term, Scanlan said he wants to start gauging public reception to the idea and receive input from Juneau residents.

“We’re hopeful to start our public meetings in the next two weeks or so,” Scanlan said. “We want to pursue this on as quick of a timeline as possible.”

• Contact reporter Ben Hohenstatt at (907)523-2243 or Follow him on Twitter at @BenHohenstatt.

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