SHERIDAN — An attempt to reopen the Antelope Butte Ski Area in the Big Horn National Forest as a nonprofit is underway by private citizens. A similar effort had been taking place in Jackson to save Snow King, which is up for sale.
Mark Weitz and others from the Sheridan area started the Antelope Butte Foundation in an effort to keep the ski area open as a nonprofit. The group recently met with National Forest Service representatives to halt dismantling of what remains of the facility.
The foundation is working to develop and present its business and fundraising plans to the state. Antelope Butte has been closed since 2004 and is owned by the federal government in the Big Horn Forest.
While developers’ plans to purchase the lifts and lodge to reopen the facility have been unsuccessful, Weitz said he believes that the nonprofit approach might be successful, reports say.
He explained that smaller ski-markets have not been able to support a ski area, so the nonprofit's ability to apply for grants and donations is necessary. Reports say that Weitz would like to have the facility open by the 2012 ski season.
Over in Jackson, owners of the financially troubled Snow King Resort, known as “Town Hill,” are selling the 465-acre property in the heart of Jackson, a Feb. 1 Business Report eDaily says.
The Community Foundation of Jackson Hole (CFJH) created Friends of Snow King to try to save the ski area, but their plans dissolved quickly in June when Snow King Partners gave negative feedback to the Friends’ efforts, according to a July Business Report article.
Rick Hunt, board chairman for Friends of Snow King, said, “At this juncture, [Friends of Snow King] will hibernate until such time that we feel further negotiations will be fruitful toward providing a facility for our local community at large."
The resort’s owners failed to pay more than $129,000 in lease payments to the Town of Jackson for more than six months. A new lease agreement calls for monthly payments of $12,000.
The resort is listed on the website for the Chicago-based firm, Hospitality Real Estate Counselors, which is said to be working in cooperation with Prudential Preferred Properties in Gillette.
The 2011-12 ski season is uncertain for the resort, which was opened in 1939. However, Snow King CEO Manuel Lopez has said that the resort will operate as usual, reports say.
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