Minor risk pays off

By Baker City Herald Editorial Board April 20, 2011 03:07 pm

We had reservations about Baker County accepting ownership of the Anthony Lakes ski area last summer.

After one ski season under public control, a season that was by all accounts an excellent one, with skier visits about double that of the previous year, our concerns have been eased.

Eased, but not eliminated.

The ski area prospered this winter in part because snow came early, and skiing conditions were generally good throughout the season that ended earlier this month.

Weather, of course, is not only beyond the control of the non-profit Baker County Development Corporation, which operates the ski area — weather is also unreliable.

Nonetheless, we believe the enthusiasm that the operators generated this winter will pay dividends in a year when, inevitably, winter arrives late.

The ski area, along with Baker County Tourism, marketed the resort not only regionally, as in the past, but also locally, with promotions that encouraged businesses to give discounts to skiers.

As we wrote in July, the county took a risk with the ski area deal, but a minor one. Even if the resort fails to break even, the county has debt-free facilities worth an estimated $1.2 million.

The bigger risk might have been to do nothing. Imagine how many fewer local motel rooms would have been rented, and restaurant meals bought and gas tanks filled, had the ski area been closed this winter.