Judge Signs Eviction Notice For Park City Mountain Resort, But Orders Mediation
(Updated: 1:30 p.m. (MT) June 19, 2014)
A Utah district court judge gave Powdr Corp. and Park City Mountain Resort a reprieve from an eviction notice until a hearing on Aug. 27, and he ordered parties in this contentious lease dispute to attempt a third-party mediation of the lawsuit by Aug. 15.
The June 19 decision by Judge Ryan Harris is seen as a short-term victory for PCMR and its parent Powdr Corp., who were facing a 60-day eviction from some 3,000 acres it has leased from neighbor Talisker/Canyon Resorts for the last 40 years. Vail Resorts, which signed a long-term operating lease with Talisker last year, is handling the litigation.
“Park City Mountain Resort is gratified that Judge Harris stayed Vail Resort's eviction order at least until another hearing now scheduled for late August and directed the parties to mediate disputed issues,” said Powdr’s attorney Alan Sullivan in a statement sent to SnoCountry.com. “These rulings will help ensure minimal disruption to the Park City community while the parties try to resolve the case and surrounding issues so that the 2014-2015 season will proceed business as usual.”
“We appreciate the Court’s time and look forward to the Court completing this legal process,” said John Lund, attorney for Vail Resorts, in a statement for SnoCountry.com. “It’s time for everyone to move forward and begin discussing sensible resolutions to the situation and that is why we welcome the Court’s order of mediation."
This delay in any decision on an eviction – plus Powdr Corp.’s insistence upon an appeal of any adverse ruling – appears to assure that the 2014-2015 winter season at the Wasatch Mountain resort will go forth as planned.
The judge’s decision adds another chapter in the lease dispute that began in 2011 when PCMR officials allegedly failed to renew its 40-year lease with Talisker – a circumstance that PCMR disputes. Once Talisker considered the lease to be broken, the Canada-based company made it clear it wanted to sell the lease to Vail Resorts, which signed a 50-year with Talisker in 2013 to operate neighboring Canyons Resort.
Both PCMR and Canyons sit atop thousands of old mining claims from Park City’s silver boom days around the turn of the century. In 2004, Talisker acquired all the mining claims from United Park City Mines, including the property under most of PCMR’s slopes and trails.
The Park City resort owns the base area that provides direct access to the mountain’s 3,000 acres of skiing and snowboarding terrain. At one point, PCMR reportedly offered to sell it to Talisker. However, the two parties say they have failed to come together for negotiations on any land sale and, recently, PCMR has said it would not sell the base area to its neighbor.
In May, the judge ruled in favor of Talisker on a variety of lease-related issues, paving the way for a potential eviction notice. As part of its lease agreement with Talisker, Vail Resorts took control of the legal proceedings.
In response, PCMR officials first asked for a stay of any eviction in order for all appeals and any negotiations to be completed. Then, the resort outlined plans to completely dismantle nine chairlifts, take down parts of three more and realign another trio of lifts.
Charges have flown back and forth in the Park Record newspaper.
Both CEOs, John Cumming for Powdr Corp. and Rob Katz at Vail Resorts, contend that the other side has failed to negotiate in good faith. Cumming has called the situation a “land grab by Vail.” Various reports have outlined economic impacts on Park City under different scenarios, including shutting down the mountain and forcing Talisker to construct new lifts.
This latest episode in the dispute comes on the heels of the announcement of Ski Utah’s conceptual plan to link the seven Wasatch Mountain resorts through a series of chairlifts and, in the case of Canyons Resort and Park City Mountain Resort, dropping barrier ropes between the contiguous areas.
Photo: Park City Mountain Resort (PCMR)