John D. Cumming, Chief Executive Officer of Powdr, published a guest editorial in the Park Record on the legal dispute and PCMR’s commitment to the Park City community. The letter is below and can also be found on the Park Record’s website.
November 9, 2013
An Open Letter to the Community:
I know Park City Mountain Resort’s legal dispute with Vail and Talisker has created uncertainty and tension within Park City, affecting our community with something it did nothing to cause. I want you to understand our perspective and to know we are doing all we can to preserve Park City Mountain Resort.
Like most everyone in Park City, the mountains have played a huge role in my life. I have skied since I was very young, and my family has shared many precious experiences together skiing and climbing. I started working at Park City Ski Area in 1992. I was a lift operator, worked on the race crew, in the reservations department, and as a groomer before my family acquired the company in 1994. I was incredibly lucky to have been mentored by Nick Badami whose son, Craig, was tragically killed on the mountain during World Cup Weekend in 1989. Nick was 72 and I was 26 when we started working together. He allowed me to sit with him at a partner’s desk. More importantly, he allowed me to carry on his family’s legacy. I met my wife on the mountain, and my children learned to ski at Park City Mountain Resort.
Many others—including locals, members of the PCMR team, and guests from around the world—have similar stories. PCMR is more than a business: it is a community treasure that we all love and that my team has worked to build for more than 20 years. That is why this legal dispute with Vail and Talisker over the resort’s upper terrain has been so difficult.
It is important that the community understands that not only did we believe that we renewed the leases on the upper mountain, everyone involved knew we intended to renew them. Everyone’s words and deeds demonstrated the belief that the lease had been renewed. During the spring, summer, fall, and early winter of 2011, Talisker watched as we paid our rent and spent millions improving lifts and facilities, only to inform us, some eight months after the renewal date, of its belief that we had renewed incorrectly.
We have been trying to resolve the situation for almost two years with numerous meetings that were fruitless. A lease agreement at above-market rates is not what Talisker is after. They are banking on a steal-of-a-deal and/or to cripple a major competitor. Talisker directly violated our contracts by transferring control of the leased lands to Vail without notifying PCMR and not giving us an opportunity to purchase the land. We sued Talisker as a last resort in the belief that the court will apply thoughtful rules and equitable principles, as well as enforce our right to match any offer to buy the upper terrain of the mountain.
The property and parking at the base of the mountain, water rights used on the entire mountain, the snowmaking equipment, and access lifts are owned by PCMR, not part of the litigation, and not for sale. Even if Vail prevails in the lawsuit what do they actually get? All they would have is the upper mountain, unconnected to the lower ski terrain and base area. I hope that Vail understands this and will work towards a fair resolution, which has been our goal from the start.
While there has always been competition between the individual ski resorts on and off the slopes, much of Park City’s success is the result of the resorts working together. Great things can happen when everyone focuses on making Park City both a premier vacation destination and great place to live, work, and raise a family. We believe that our plans to bring Woodward Park City, a leading action sports training center and camp, to Park City exemplify that commitment, and look forward to sharing our plans with the community in the weeks and months to come. Over the last 50 years, PCMR has become the number one family resort in North America and we plan to serve this community for another 50+ years.
As for Vail and Talisker, I hope they realize their efforts to take over PCMR are futile and not in the best interests of the community, of which they are now members. We are open to any rational solution to the present problem, but we will not allow this resort to be stolen or destroyed, and we realize what is at stake – for you and for us.
John D. Cumming