A group of seven longtime Park City business or government figures earlier in July sent a strongly worded letter to the top-ranking figures at Park City Mountain Resort parent Powdr Corp. and Vail Resorts urging them to reach an agreement to ensure the 2014-2015 ski season at PCMR is not interrupted.
The letter was dated July 9. A copy was also sent to Mayor Jack Thomas. It was released via a request under state open-records laws. It is one of a series of correspondences sent to the mayor and the Park City Council in recent weeks.
The letter is signed by restaurateur and commercial real estate owner Hans Fuegi. Six other well-known Parkites attached their names to the letter. They are: developer Rory Murphy, former Mayor Brad Olch, former Park City Public Affairs Director Myles Rademan, onetime City Councilor and Summit County Commissioner Bob Richer, businessman Jan Wilking and Charlie Wintzer, whose family has significant property holdings in the Iron Horse district.
The figures are seen as some of the architects of modern-day Park City. The signatories represent the broad impact that many in the community expect if PCMR does not operate during the upcoming ski season or operates using only the lower terrain of the resort. PCMR is embroiled in a high-profile lawsuit against its landlord, Talisker Land Holdings, LLC, and Vail Resorts that involve most of the terrain underlying the slopes.
The sides are in court-ordered mediation in an attempt to reach a settlement. Information about the talks has not been made public. The case centers on PCMR's lease of the terrain and involves a countersuit. The judge has largely sided with Talisker Land Holdings, LLC and Vail Resorts, the Colorado firm that entered into a long-term deal to operate the Talisker corporate family-owned Canyons Resort. The deal could be extended to the disputed PCMR terrain depending on the outcome of the case.
The seven figures addressed the letter to John Cumming, who is the CEO of PCMR parent Powdr Corp., and Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz. Both are believed to be heavily involved in the mediation.
"We understand the gravity of the decisions facing you and realize you are engaged in a complex private matter with many legal, economic and personal ramifications. We trust however you will keep foremost in your minds the huge public implications and significant collateral damage to the dreams and livelihoods of the many thousands who have invested their lives and fortunes in our community and are now totally reliant on the continued operations of the resorts," the letter says.
It describes a pride Park City has based on having three mountain resorts and says the community has "worked in concert to promote our area in a spirit of camaraderie and cooperation which has been the envy of the ski industry and has propelled Park City into the forefront of destination skiing and tourism worldwide."
"As you have publically acknowledged, none of us can afford to damage the Park City brand we've worked so hard to establish, grow and promote," the letter says.
The seven signatories want the two sides to announce before the start of August that PCMR will open for the 2014-2015 ski season and operate in its usual fashion. The letter mentions the possibility of an agreement for the ski season "regardless of the eventual outcome of these difficult matters."
"Uncertainty is the bane of investor and business success and our guests have numerous other options for their recreation dollars. Delay only intensifies the growing uncertainty already being felt and the damage it causes will long be felt as a cascading drumbeat of negative national and international publicity creates doubts irrevocably harming Park City," the letter says.
In an interview, Fuegi said Cumming and Katz spoke to the group in person at different times last week in Park City. He said each of the CEOs is aware of the impact if PCMR does not operate in its normal fashion. Fuegi mentioned employment losses, lower lease rates and lower real estate values. Fuegi drafted the letter on behalf of the others and the version sent to Cumming and Katz includes edits suggested by the other signatories. Fuegi said the letter takes a neutral stand on the dispute itself. He said he is "somewhat optimistic" about the prospects of an agreement.
"They understand the sooner the better," Fuegi said about an agreement.