Mission Ridge expansion plan deserves enthusiastic community support
One of the most important economic and civic assets we have in North Central Washington is Mission Ridge Ski and Board Resort. We owe it to ourselves, future generations and the owners to vigorously support the expansion of Mission Ridge. That expansion will give the ski area a fighting chance to be economically successful and make the necessary capital investments that will be required in coming years.
The expansion plan is in the hands of Chelan County and the U.S. Forest Service. The comment period for Chelan County ends on Oct. 19 and it is imperative that those who want to keep the ski area step up and support.
There are a host of reasons to support this project. Mission Ridge, which was started by local civic leaders who invested in the enterprise to improve the quality of life, wants to expand the area to create a new beginner area and a surrounding development that will help support the financial performance.n If you look around the country, there are fewer and fewer locally oriented ski areas around. The economics are extremely challenging.
Mission Ridge is far from a gold mine. General Manager Josh Jorgensen tells me that on good years the Ridge will clear a few hundred thousand dollars (which are all reinvested into deferred maintenance every year), but operates in the red on tough years. With $30 million of capital expenditures needed in the next decade, there’s no way that tiny margin will provide debt service.
Mission Ridge is living on borrowed time.
There are so many reasons to love this expansion project beyond the critical financial need. First and foremost, the owners — Larry and Jane Scrivanich — are humble, gracious people who have invested significantly in this valley and have maintained and enhanced the hometown charm of the ski area. They’ve never taken a dime of income out of the ski area and have loaned the area money when needed.
Mission Ridge, thanks to an outstanding leadership and the stewardship of the Scrivanich family, boasts a visitor experience that is unparalleled in the industry. It reflects wonderfully on our valley. There are some strong economic reasons to support this project, too. The ski area provides $13.5 million in economic benefit to the valley and employs 300 people at its peak. That’s expected to grow to an impact of $30 million over 10 years with expansion and another 200 employees.
Another reason to support this project is that Jorgensen and his team have devoted three years and engaged nearby residents, sportsmen, state and federal agencies and worked to create a plan that will support financial success and minimize any impact.
This is not the first time that an expansion has been proposed at The Ridge, but this is the first time that it has been done with such transparency and involvement of stakeholders. So we have outstanding owners who care about the ski area and the community; they’ve done an outstanding job of addressing concerns and doing studies over and above what has been required.
Jorgensen told me that if this expansion doesn’t happen, the property is already zoned for development and an even bigger impact on the area would be possible. As it is, the expansion will leave 72 percent of the 500 acres alone.
Community support is absolutely vital. An expansion like this is almost certain to generate opposition. Strong community support will give this effort the best chance of success.
Written comments must be submitted to the Department of Community Development, 316 Washington St., Suite 301 Wenatchee, WA 98801; Attention: Lilith Vespier or email [email protected] for additional information or to review application materials.
You can view the expansion material at missionridge.com/expansion.
Finally, to lend your name in support of this project, you can endorse it by accessing this link: missionridge.com/expansion-endorsement.
Let’s not miss this opportunity to pay back Mission Ridge.