Golf-course talks break down in Coalville
July 22, 2006
Eleventh-hour talks aimed at resuscitating an 18-hole golf course at The Canyons broke down this week in Coalville.
Summit County commissioners claim the former owner of the resort, Wolf Mountain Resorts managing partner Kenny Griswold, has defaulted on his agreement with the county to provide land for trails, open space and roads for a course at The Canyons.
Griswold, who still owns much of the ski terrain and developable land at The Canyons, has leased the property to the resort’s parent company, American Skiing Co., since the late 1990s.
Griswold was one of roughly 20 landowners who cooperated to form The Canyons Specially Planned Area. Development approvals were granted as the property owners agreed to provide land and easements to build a golf course near the resort’s base area.
"It’s disappointing that [Wolf Mountain] is continuing to take this path and it’s hard to believe that there is not an ulterior motive," said Tim Vetter, a vice president at The Canyons, during a telephone interview Friday. "Unfortunately, I think it’s pretty consistent with the behavior they have shown through the whole process."
But the development agreement required American Skiing to complete the golf course five years ago, Griswold told The Park Record last week.
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He added that American Skiing’s financial woes have delayed course construction.
Since creating The Canyons, the value of the publicly traded company’s stock has plummeted from around $20 to 20 cents per share, Griswold said.
"Especially in light of American Skiing Company’s financial condition, we don’t want to be casual about approving a golf course, if real estate development, which is primary to the future of the ski resort, suffers," he said.
Until Monday, however, David Gee, special counsel for Summit County, believed the matter could be resolved.
Griswold must provide "easements for trails, open space restrictions for golf course parcels and golf related land and conveyances for Frostwood Drive, Lower Village public road, Lower Village private road and Canyons Resort Drive," Gee said while reading from a findings and decisions document approved by commissioners on Wednesday.
"You have no choice but to do this," Gee told the County Commission.
Summit County Commissioner Ken Woolstenhulme said he hopes Griswold complies with the development agreement before County Attorney David Brickey is asked to sue Wolf Mountain.
"It’s going to require Kenny and his people and his lawyers all to agree to do the right thing then there will be no need for the Board of County Commissioners to make a tough decision about telling me to go to court," Brickey said Friday.
Griswold wasn’t immediately available to respond.
According to Brickey, Gee was "advised to be prepared and ready to do what they have to do to tender the property."
"I don’t know what business prospect or business angle Kenny and his advisers are considering," Brickey added.
While insisting Wolf Mountain will likely provide more land for the golf course than all other property owners at The Canyons combined, Griswold has criticized American Skiing’s blueprints for the course.
But the parties worked "vigorously" to negotiate a deal, Gee said.
"The full story of everything has not necessarily come out," he said, adding that, "many of the parties went a long way towards trying to settle the matter."
The county gave Griswold 60 days to comply with a 1999 agreement or face possible legal action when Wolf Mountain was issued a notice of default on May 3.
"Unfortunately, discussions have broken down, so we find ourselves at the point where the county has to do what it said it would do," Gee said.