The Jackson Town Council will likely vote Monday on a gondola and other proposed features at Snow King Mountain Resort, and whether to renew coronavirus masking requirements.
The mask issue comes as the town and county experience a spike in the number of positive COVID-19 cases. Eleven new cases were confirmed in Teton County on Sunday, bringing the known active total to 54.
The uptick came roughly two weeks after the Fourth of July holiday, which brought an increase in tourist traffic to the area, and more than a week after the council split a July 6 vote to allow the Town Square Shootout to resume for the summer.
Though the Jackson Hole Playhouse asked to kick off the 63rd annual Shootout season on July 7, performances have yet to take place. The Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce website indicates it is expected to start this week, but it hadn’t confirmed an exact date as of Sunday afternoon.
On July 6, Mayor Pete Muldoon and Councilor Jim Stanford voted against allowing the Shootout to resume, though they acknowledged that their opinions on the matter might not be popular.
“I think this is a case of having to make some difficult choices about whether we’re going to have the Shootout or if we’re going to have schools open in the fall,” Muldoon said.
Councilors Hailey Morton Levinson, Arne Jorgensen and Jonathan Schechter voted in favor of the Shootout, noting that Town Manager Larry Pardee was empowered to halt it without council action if it creates a public health danger.
On Saturday, Muldoon said that since the beginning of the pandemic the council has “relied on the advice of our public health officer and the public health experts, and we’re going to continue to do that,” regarding any mask-wearing requirement.
Jorgensen said that, beyond any town mandate, “it’s important that we do everything we can to handle ourselves appropriately.” He encouraged people to download the PathCheck SafePlaces mobile app to assist the county health department with contact tracing.
Regarding Snow King, the council will consider and may vote on construction of a gondola based in Phil Baux Park, a series of zip lines running from summit to base and a snowmaking pump house. The council may also vote on a proposed $3,000-per-month lease for the space a gondola would occupy on public land in Phil Baux Park.
At its last meeting, the council heard more than an hour of public comment before tabling the Snow King items. Commenters spoke in favor and against some or all aspects of proposed additions, with noise being a chief concern.
“The community loves Snow King, and it brings out a lot of passion,” Snow King board member and former Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce CEO Jeff Golightly said after the July 6 meeting. Snow King “brings out an extraordinary amount of passion on [these issues]. And it also brings out an incredibly varied response to the same thing.”
Muldoon and Jorgensen confirmed Saturday that no more public comment will be heard Monday before the council takes up the Snow King issues.
Asked if he has already made up his mind about the gondola, zip line and pump house, Jorgensen noted that they have all been approved in the Snow King master plan “in concept.”
“What we have in front of us is a detailed review of that,” Jorgensen said. “So, whether we have a gondola or whether we have a zip line, to me, isn’t the question. The question is getting into the operational details to ensure there’s a significant public benefit and the impacts to public assets are mitigated.”