Osguthorpe enters lease battle at The Canyons
It’s unclear how a lawsuit filed against Wolf Mountain Resorts by a prominent western Summit County landowner will impact American Skiing Co.’s ability to operate The Canyons.
Property leased from Stephen Osguthorpe by Wolf Mountain Resorts managing partner Kenny Griswold that Griswold subleases to American Skiing is the "heart" of The Canyons resort, American Skiing Company President and Chief Executive Officer B.J. Fair has said.
"But it is the obligation of the American Skiing Company to pay all the bills of the operation on a yearly basis," Griswold said during an interview Monday.
However, Griswold broke his lease with Osguthorpe when he did not pay the family consulting fees agreed to in 1996, states a 3-page complaint Osguthorpe filed against Wolf Mountain Resorts.
Osguthorpe and his father, D.A. Osguthorpe, were to be paid to "assist Wolf Mountain with certain plans it had to develop and expand its ski resort in or about Park City," the lawsuit states.
"In exchange for that consulting and assistance, Wolf Mountain agreed to compensate [the Osguthorpes] individually, through a $100,000 annual payment," the lawsuit states.
When reached Tuesday, Stephen Osguthorpe would not comment about the lawsuit filed Aug. 11 in Third District Court in Salt Lake County. David Schofield, Osguthorpe’s attorney, was not immediately available for comment.
American Skiing Co. owns The Canyons but leases more than 3,000 acres from Wolf Mountain to operate the resort.
Osguthorpe, who owns roughly 550 acres at The Canyons, now intends to rescind his lease with Wolf Mountain Resorts and prohibit Griswold from using the property.
Tim Vetter, a spokesman for The Canyons, insists American Skiing Co. has made its payments to the Osguthorpes.
"It would make sense if we were the ones responsible that we would have been named (in the lawsuit)," Vetter said Tuesday.
The Osguthorpes own two parcels of land at the resort near the Red Pine area and the Flight of the Canyons gondola, he added.
"My records show that we have made every one of the payments that we are required to make under the lease," Vetter said, adding that American Skiing officials regularly communicate with Osguthorpe. "We’ll work through it."
Because of his "good relationship" with Osguthorpe Griswold insists he is not concerned about the lawsuit.
"If American Skiing Company doesn’t want to pay their obligations then they should step aside," he said.
Griswold says he expected Osguthorpe to sue after Wolf Mountain moved last spring to terminate its lease with American Skiing Company.
"We had believed that the Osguthorpes wanted out of the lease," he said.
Wolf Mountain wants to evict American Skiing Co. because ASC officials allegedly violated the lease when they negotiated with Osguthorpe several years ago to amend the contract.
A "restatement of agreement" entered into by ASC and the Osguthorpes in 2001 "purports to reduce Wolf Mountain’s leasehold interest in the property to nothing more than an easement," Wolf Mountain attorney Victoria Fitlow states in court documents.
But a preliminary injunction issued by Third District Court Judge Bruce Lubeck has likely barred Griswold from ending the lease before the upcoming ski season.
If Osguthorpe hasn’t received rent and fees for his land used by The Canyons it’s because American Skiing Company hasn’t paid, Griswold insisted.
"I’ve had very good conversations with Steve Osguthorpe and his representative," Griswold said.
"Every major (ski resort) operator" is interested in running The Canyons should American Skiing Company bow out, he said.
"I don’t see any of these contractual issues impacting the operations of The Canyons," Vetter countered. "We are going to be open November 18 with new lifts, new terrain and an expanded lodge at Red Pine."
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