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  • MT. ASHLAND SKI AREA

    Ski area raises bar on donations

    Costs ran over on improvement projects, so another $148,000 is needed, ski officials say
  • The Mt. Ashland Association needs to raise an additional $148,000 after summer and fall improvement projects at the Mt. Ashland Ski Area cost significantly more than expected.
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  • The Mt. Ashland Association needs to raise an additional $148,000 after summer and fall improvement projects at the Mt. Ashland Ski Area cost significantly more than expected.
    The association originally had planned to raise $250,000 for run widening, an improved beginners' hill and an expanded parking lot.
    The community stepped forward, donating $286,098 for the cause.
    However, officials said this week that more is needed. The new total goal announced on Thursday is $434,000.
    The largest cost overrun came for the parking lot expansion, which added 101 spaces.
    The new spaces are graveled, compacted and ready for use during the upcoming ski season, but final paving will be done in the spring, Ski Area General Manager Kim Clark said.
    More dirt and rock had to be excavated and moved than expected, causing parking lot expansion costs to be about $100,000 more than anticipated, he said. Some of the material was used to recontour a beginners' hill next to the ski lodge to give it a more gentle, gradual slope.
    The U.S. Forest Service limited how much material could be placed on the hill, forcing workers to truck material off-site, Clark said.
    Former Ashland City Councilor Eric Navickas voiced concerns that moving dirt for the parking lot expansion and recontouring the beginners' hill could cause sedimentation in the Ashland Creek and Cottonwood Creek watersheds.
    Navickas filed an appeal of the parking lot project to the state Land Use Board of Appeals. That case is pending.
    Clark said the ski area has accrued costs of about $10,000 due to the appeal.
    During the summer, workers logged trees to widen ski area runs. That work was done almost exactly on budget, but the ski area received about $30,000 less than anticipated from selling felled trees, Clark said.
    Workers also continued work on 23 restoration projects on the mountain. Only two projects remain to be completed, Clark said.
    Ski area officials said they want to pay for the various improvement projects through donations so that revenue from operations can fund future purchases like new snow cats, rental equipment and technology upgrades.
    Meanwhile, skiers, snowboarders and ski area workers are hoping for winter storms to bring more snow to the mountain so the ski area can open for its 50th anniversary season.
    The ski area's average opening day is Dec. 11.
    Recent snow storms left 17 inches of light, fluffy snow on the mountain, but that snow had settled down to 9 inches on Thursday, Clark said.
    Clark said a fall season pass sale exceeded expectations.
    From Nov. 29 through Dec. 2, the ski area also had a successful ticket sale on Black Friday, Shop Local Saturday, Sunday and Cyber Monday.
    "The sale exceeded our expectations by two-to-one," Clark said.
    Throughout the season, the ski area is continuing to team with Costco to offer $99 punch cards that are good for three days of skiing, he said.
    For more information on the Mt. Ashland Ski Area, including updated snow depth figures, opening news and donating to help cover improvement costs, visit http://www.mtashland.com.
    Staff reporter Vickie Aldous can be reached at 541-479-8199 or vlaldous@yahoo.com.
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