In an attempt to get Eaglecrest Ski Area out of debt, the city is soliciting proposals from local businesses with ideas to use the facilities during the off-season.
No businesses have submitted statements of interest, but it's still early, said Eaglecrest manager Paul Swanson. The city sent the letter out earlier this week, and proposals are due Aug. 18.
Earlier this month, Juneau Assembly members said the ski resort must develop a business plan before the city would grant its request for $240,000 to help plug its $479,000 deficit.
"The Assembly has asked us to look for revenue sources, so this is one of the ways that we're looking for ideas," Eaglecrest business manager Gary Mendivil said. "There's a lot of businesses out there that may have been thinking of some great ideas but were looking for a location."
In the mid-1980s, Eaglecrest hosted a summer salmon bake and used the Ptarmigan Chairlift to take visitors to a boardwalk trail at the top of the mountain. The summer operation did not prove profitable enough to continue.
"At that point there was not as much tourist activity as there is now in town, and so it didn't make money for the ski area back then," Mendivil said.
Todd Saunders, executive director of the Juneau Chamber of Commerce, said the opportunity is a good one for businesses.
"It's going to take somebody who's creative and can make a bit of an investment and is willing to work with the city to make arrangements for their idea," Saunders said.
Swanson and Mendivil said some ideas could include a salmon bake or summer use of the lodge for day camps, computer classes or a meeting place for field trips or nature walks.
Eaglecrest's budget is set up in a three-year cycle that anticipates one bad revenue year due to weather and two good years. When the ski area has a good year, extra revenue is set aside to cover costs during bad years. But two of the past three years have been too warm for good skiing, and season pass holders have received credits or refunds. The ski area is in the red, and asked the city for help getting out.
Masha Herbst can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.