Los Alamos Ski Club Decides Fate Tonight

A PowerPoint presentation is set up at Cross Roads Bible Church for tonight’s special meeting of the Los Alamos Ski Club. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com

A crowd is gathering for tonight’s special meeting. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com

Staff Report

Beginning at 6 p.m., today, President of the Board of the Los Alamos Ski Club Philip Rae and Pajarito Mountain General Manager Tom Long will begin a 30-minute presentation of the situation that has led to tonight’s board meeting at Cross Roads Bible Church on East Road to decide whether to dissolve the group and transition its assets to the County.

The Los Alamos Ski Club issued a press release Jan. 27, informing the public that the board will meet this evening to present to its membership a path forward that the board unanimously believes will secure and improve the future of skiing in Los Alamos County.

The board proposes to dissolve Los Alamos Ski Club and transition all assets to Los Alamos County, which, subject to County Council approval, will then take over operation of the Ski Area. The reasons why the board believes that this is the best course of action will be presented, and a discussion and vote on the proposal will follow, adding that these proposals for the future of the ski area will not affect operations this winter – the ski area will reopen for skiing when snow conditions permit.

Jan. 28, Los Alamos County Administrator Harry Burgess responded to the announcement saying Los Alamos County was contacted last week by the Board of Directors (Los Alamos Ski Club) regarding their interest in making a change in ownership and operations due to their current financial situation.

“After our conversations, the Board reached a decision recommending that they transfer their assets to the County. Their recommendation will be put to a vote of their membership on Feb. 4,” Burgess said in his response.

“Financial concerns regarding the operation of Pajarito Mountain are not new for any of us; our staff has been working with the Board of Directors and General Manager on possible development opportunities and enhancements for several months. One of the items that had been under consideration was to hire a third party manager for the ski resort. Skiing at Pajarito Mountain is a part of our history; it is a delight for local residents and tourists alike. Yet everyone who lives in northern New Mexico can readily see the impacts of this multi-year drought on our local landscape, and it is especially hard for Pajarito Mountain as they must rely on snowfall that has been elusive for years.

This is not a decision that can be made lightly. As the Council considers the potential transfer, they will need to consider the opportunity as well as financial liabilities associated with this idea, especially in light of current budget concerns and the long term investment that would be needed to take on facility management, staffing, maintenance and marketing of Pajarito Mountain. With uncertainties that still lie ahead with federal budgets funding our largest employer and revenue source, LANL, the Council will have much to consider before reaching a decision. I have already met with department directors to begin asking questions about how we might address items related to operating the ski resort, but this is a process that will take some time and research. We are just beginning to assemble the information that we will need to provide to the Council for consideration, and public input will be an important part of the process.

We appreciate the Board’s candor and desire to include us in exploring options that might resolve their challenging financial situation to keep Pajarito Mountain part of our history. It is an important part of Los Alamos, and to that end I know that the Council will be working with County Staff, the Board and its membership to seek options to keep the facility open.”