Town to review Snow King zip line proposal
By Benjamin Graham, Jackson Hole, Wyo.
January 22, 2013
The Jackson Town Council will review a zip line developers have planned for public land at a meeting today.
Town leaders asked Snow King Mountain Recreation to stop construction on the “Soaring Eagle Zip Line” last fall after the group started work on the 700-foot-long ride without town approval.
The council could decide at a 2 p.m. workshop whether the zip line falls within the parameters of the town’s lease with Snow King Mountain’s Manuel Lopez. The lease allows “ski area uses.”
“This is the town of Jackson as the owner of the property deciding how the lease should be interpreted,” Town Manager Bob McLaurin said. The question that needs to be considered is, he said, “Is the zip line an appropriate use within the lease?”
Lopez believes it is.
“One hundred percent of it is within land that we control,” Lopez said. “Some of it is owned by the town, but we have a lease that goes on for another 21 years. That lease allows for lifts, any kind of development.”
The zip line would be similar to a ski lift, he said. Riders hang onto a pulley attached to a cable and slide from the top to the bottom of the inclined line.
The top and bottom of the ride would be located on public land on the town hill. The property is leased to Lopez’s group for $1,200 a year.
“It’s a big attraction,” Lopez said. “Most of the ski areas around have them.”
He mentioned Snowbird and Park City Mountain Resort in Utah, as well as resorts in Colorado, Montana and Idaho.
The ride would operate year-round, he said.
Lopez had wanted to install the zip line by Christmas.
The project wasn’t initially deemed to require council approval because it was submitted to the town as a “minor development plan.” But staff and the council decided that elected leaders should determine what the lease permitted.
Snow King Mountain Recreation broke ground on the project last fall. Lopez said the purpose of the digging was to determine soil conditions.
The town shut the down excavation shortly after it began because staff wanted the council to interpret the lease before anything was built, McLaurin said.
The council planned to study the zip line in a hastily called meeting in November. But the project was withdrawn when the council could not muster a quorum.
The project is one of many changes Lopez and his group plan for the historic ski hill. Others are mountain bike trails, an alpine coaster and a ropes course.
Crews erected an ice climbing wall earlier this winter on land owned by Snow King, and construction is now under way for paragliding landing pads near the base of the mountain. The goal of the changes is to make the hill more profitable.
“We all want the same thing,” McLaurin said. “We want Snow King to be successful.”