Mt. Ashland manager responds

In reference to Daniel Hamnett's letter published on Nov. — about parking issues at Mt. Ashland, I would like to publicly answer his questions. True, Mt. Ashland has been approved to create 200 additional parking spaces as part of our improvement project. True, this will require a lot of cutting and filling.

As part of our first phase we intend to put in an additional 50 parking spaces that will be carved into the hillside of the Sonnet chairlift area. A substantial amount of the material created by putting in these first 50 parking spaces has been approved to help re-grade our beginner chairlift run down Sonnet chair. This will create a win-win situation of additional parking as well as better, more usable beginner terrain. The rest of the approved parking will only be added as the need arises

Regarding our plans for a shuttle service and alternative transportation options, Mt. Ashland, with the help of several local transportation professionals from the Rouge Valley have been, and will continue to study the feasibility of a shuttle service. We have evaluated shuttles starting from the valley towns as well as from proposed parking areas at the base of the Mt. Ashland access road.

So far we have not been able to come up with a system that will even remotely break even while meeting the needs of our guests, as relayed to us through on-site surveys. We will continue to research this in hopes of coming up with a long-term sustainable option that will work to the benefit of all.

On the alternative transportation front, Mt. Ashland has been operating a ski bus every weekend and all holiday periods for 15 years. Last year, we upgraded the bus from the standard school bus to luxury coaches for a safe and enjoyable ride. Ridership on the bus, by the way, averages around half-full for most days so there is plenty of room. Mt. Ashland underwrites the financial loss to operate the bus.

To address your last concern about cross-country skiers and snowshoers, all parking in the parking lots that Mt. Ashland built and maintains is first come first serve, no matter whether you are here to ski or ride or just enjoy a day in the beautiful outdoors.

Kim Clark

General Manager

Mt. Ashland Association

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