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Membership considers moving ski area ownership to county

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Skiing> Los Alamos Ski Club to host special meeting at 6 p.m. Feb. 4

By The Staff

Mother Nature has not been kind to the Pajarito Mountain Ski Area in recent years.
A lack of snow has made it difficult for the ski area to make ends meet.
This year has been no exception as the beginners’ area was only open for a couple days over the holidays. Since then, the area has suspended operations until further snowfall.
Then on Monday, there was this announcement posted on the Pajarito Mountain website.
“The Board of Los Alamos Ski Club (LASC) announces a Special Membership Meeting at 6 p.m. Feb. 4 at the Crossroads Bible Church on East Road, to present to the Membership a path forward that the Board unanimously believes will secure and improve the future of skiing in Los Alamos County.
“We propose to dissolve Los Alamos Ski Club and transition all assets to Los Alamos County, which, subject to 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. This meeting will be open to all Members of LASC.
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.”
Later Monday, county administrator Harry Burgess released a statement regarding the situation.
“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.”
According to its website, Pajarito Mountain is located on the eastern edge of the Jemez Mountains in north central New Mexico, 5 miles west of Los Alamos. It comprises around 750 acres of land, privately owned by Los Alamos Ski Club, that was developed as a ski area in the late 1950’s.
The mountain has views to the east over the Rio Grande Valley towards the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, and from the top, to the west over the Valle Grande.
The area boasts one quad, one triple, three double and one rope tow lifts with a peak elevation of 10,440 feet.
More on this story in upcoming editions of the Los Alamos Monitor.