Guest editorial by Eric Navickas
The recent lawsuit from the Mt. Ashland Association has cost Ashland taxpayers heavily and accomplished very little.
Before I was on the Council, the City made several requests of the Association in the case that the ski area expansion were to move forward. These included a business plan, a quality assurance team and bonding for the project.
These requests were prudent and responsible, considering the proposal rests within our municipal watershed and all liability rests on the city in the case that the ski area fails financially.
Twice in written letters, the Mt. Ashland Association agreed to work with the city to meet the limited terms, which were intended to obstruct nothing but to simply protect the city from additional costs.
In the course of deliberations around this agreement, the Mt. Ashland Association filed suit against the city despite the fact that an injunction from the federal courts was already halting any movement on the expansion.
Legal counsel and city staff felt the city's position was strong as we maintained good-faith agreements from the Mt. Ashland Association, and the city had done nothing to cause damage or delay to the expansion proposal.
In what came as a surprise, a local judge ruled against the city.
Although I respect my fellow councilors' unwillingness to appeal this court decision because it would have risked more costs, I believe the decision should have been appealed and the city would have prevailed.
More broadly, however, the Mt. Ashland Association should have upheld their agreements to work with the city to ensure the taxpayers and the city's water supply were protected to the fullest extent possible.
The city, which has worked as a generous partner with the Mt. Ashland Association, should not have been sued for the modest protections we requested.
Ashland has many liabilities associated with this development and the proposed expansion.
The city alone is responsible for providing quality water to our citizens, the costs of maintaining our reservoir and the insidious problems associated with a granitic watershed, erosion and sedimentation.
The sense of entitlement and disrespect shown by the Mt. Ashland Association toward our city and citizens should not be easily forgotten.
Please speak out against this risky expansion and the actions of the Association that have cost our community heavily.
Eric Navickas is an Ashland City Councilor.