Snow King Mountain Resort is more than ever a hub for local activities.
Last week’s Town Downhill race, this weekend’s hill climb, and high-profile ski races this season attract crowds and commerce to the mountain — and the properties at its base.
Since principal investor Max Chapman has led the charge a lot of progress has been made. A ropes course and a gravity coaster were added, as well as some new facilities.
Ambitious plans are afoot to build a gondola, restaurant and planetarium atop the mountain, and open up more ski runs there.
But what about the bottom of the hill?
Even casual observers should note that lots near Snow King stand empty. Recently a historic house was scraped. The maze is no more.
The Murie Cabin sits alone near the Cowboy Coaster on land controlled by resort developers.
It’s as though nearby property owners are waiting for what Snow King plans next at the base — and the approved master plan for that patch of land is arguably outdated. After all, it was set in place 15 years ago, a different era in Jackson Hole history it’s safe to say.
Unless the long-planned convention center is pursued at the King’s base, it’s time for the developers to work with the town and its residents to determine that area’s future.
Snow King managers have suggested that no new plan is needed.
Public planning processes are generally painful, but they are necessary to avoid a hodgepodge of inappropriate uses springing up piecemeal.
Among the questions:
• What is an appropriate development for that land?
• What will happen to the Murie cabin?
• Where will the new attractions parking be?
• How will new development tie in with improvements made last year to Cache Street?
• How many workers are needed for the new attractions, and where will they live and park?
Snow King certainly got a break during approvals for the ropes course and mountain coaster. The town expedited the process so developers could get moving on the projects.
Now it’s time to dig in and make sure the growing resort is on a successful path that also fits in with a bright future for Jackson and Teton County as a whole.
Nobody wins if the resort’s business gets hurt — that’s less jobs, fewer users and a hit to a local treasure.
Everybody wins if there’s an integrated, forward-looking plan for Snow King, top to bottom.