Ski patrol headquarters on the move

Emergency services make way for condos

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— The members of the Steamboat Ski Patrol are often spread out all over the mountain on a winter day that's part of their job.

But this year, ski patrol will be spread out in other ways.

Condominium construction at the base of the Steamboat Ski Area by a private developer will claim the land currently occupied by ski patrol headquarters. Demolition of the building is scheduled to start Sept. 13 59 days before the 2001/2002 ski season begins.

Ski area President Chris Diamond said ski-patrol facilities housed at Christie Base will be moved into temporary quarters this winter, and for the indefinite future.

That includes a temporary home for ski patrol "triage" facilities where injured skiers and snowboarders are brought to the bottom of the mountain.

The ski patrollers themselves will find their lockers moved to Gondola Plaza, ski area spokesman Mike Lane said. The Powdertools snowboard shop has moved upstairs in the plaza to the location formerly occupied by the Steamboat Grand Hotel sales office. Ski Patrol will move into the old Powdertools location.

Ski Patrol Director John Kohnke has moved his office into the administrative suite on the fourth floor of the gondola building.

Diamond said there is a possibility injured skiers will be brought to a ski area site farther up the mountain, near the slope-maintenance building at the bottom of the Thunderhead Express chairlift. Vehicular access would be via Burgess Creek Road. There is also a chance the facilities will be housed in a series of yurts this winter, Diamond said.

Ski Area Vice President of Real Estate Tim Greene said the ski area remains optimistic that negotiations currently under way will allow for the triage facility to remain closer to the base of the mountain.

Greene said the need to place ski patrol in temporary quarters arose from a series of land sales and unintended consequences. Diamond pointed out the original transactions took place prior to American Skiing Company's purchase of the ski area.

Greene said the land known as the Christie parcel was originally two parcels, A (4.6 acres) and B (1.6 acres). The patrol building is on the original "A" parcel.

The Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. sold parcel A to the original developers of the Christie Club condominiums. They were approved to build 59 units, and built the original phase of 20 units before the complex development partnership split up.

The property line between two different development parcels runs under the ski patrol building. The larger portion of the land under the patrol building is on property occupied by the new Antlers at Christie Base luxury townhomes. However, the Antlers buildings themselves don't conflict with the patrol building.

The other portion is scheduled for new construction this fall by another developer. The developer, a member of the original Christie Club group, is planning on a building a development more similar to the existing Christie Club condos. Although the new building won't sit on top of the current ski patrol site, the developer needs the building removed from the tight construction area. And the new condos will cut off access to the ski patrol triage site. Vehicular access is critical to ski patrol because some injured skiers and snowboarders must be transferred to the hospital.

Greene said the ski corp. also sold original parcel B, and took steps it thought would assure a home for the ski patrol headquarters.

"We were smart to a degree, but not smart enough," Greene said.

The terms of the sale, to a third developer, gave the ski corp. the right to lease or buy up to 3,500 square feet in whatever building eventually took shape on the parcel.

However, the land remains undeveloped and there's nothing in the terms of the sale that compels that developer to build. Now that its present site is scheduled for redevelopment, there's no permanent home for ski patrol to move into.

Greene said the ski corp did take other measures to keep the ski patrol facility close to Christie base; it negotiated the right to locate temporary buildings on the undeveloped parcel B. Unfortunately, Greene said, "practically and financially," the temporary buildings don't make sense. The engineering work for the temporary buildings hasn't been done and the ski corp. didn't "button down" access to the site. Significantly, Greene said, the ski corp. could invest up to $250,000 in the temporary buildings and have no guarantee that within one or two years the developer wouldn't decide to go forward with a permanent development on the site.

If and when that future development goes forward, the ski area should find a permanent home for ski patrol facilities.

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