In what seems to be a never-ending see-saw battle between emotionally charged sides over the expansion of the Mount Ashland ski resort, it's tempting to get caught up in supporting one side over the other. Both the city and Mt. Ashland Association officials have compelling arguments. And that's why the debate has risen to the point where it may take yet another judge's ruling to determine the final outcome.




At least that's the point made when MAA officials sued the City of Ashland in July 2007 for allegedly interfering in a proposed expansion of the ski resort. The city, believing it needed to take action to protect the interests of its residents (which include both economic liability concerns and protection of the watershed), responded by instructing the Forest Service to deal only with the city regarding a timber sale that MAA needed in order to start logging for the expansion.




The city was making a salient point of its own while taking advantage of a legal maneuver that focuses attention on the Special Use Permit, which the city owns but leases to the MAA. Judges, up through the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, have continued to rule on the points being made by both sides. Today, the battle rages on.




The city council recently authorized $160,000 to defend itself in the upcoming trial. And when the city, on March 10, declined Mt. Ashland Association's offer to postpone the July trial (for up to six months), it may have been tempting to give in to a knee-jerk response criticizing city leaders for walking away from an opportunity to save the city some of its much-needed funds. But upon closer inspection, it appears the city is indeed saving money by maintaining the current court date.




The added bonus is that both sides can feel the pressure of the looming trial inching closer each day. That pressure provides incentive for both sides to negotiate fairly and in good faith.




City Administrator Martha Bennett underscored the city's decision to decline MAA's offer to delay the trial by reiterating the fact that the council has already permitted spending only up to $160,000 on Mt. Ashland litigation &

and any delay likely adds to the charges by hired litigators.




MAA's disappointment is understandable. But the city's prudent decision eliminates the potential for unnecessary elongation of an already protracted problem. It forces both sides to the negotiation table with inherent pressure applied by the approaching trial date, which everyone is seeking to avoid.