PARK CITY — With the deadline for court-mandated mediation approaching, Park City Mountain Resort officials told city leaders last week that the resort is willing to pay a fair market lease to continue operations through the 2014-15 ski season.
The resort is currently involved in a lengthy dispute after failing to renew its lease with Talisker Land Holdings, which owns much of the land where the resort operates.
The dispute has generated concern among city residents and municipal leaders that the upcoming ski season would be adversely affected, but Park City Mountain Resort officials sent a letter last week to the city saying they are willing to pay Talisker to leave the resort intact for the next year.
"(Park City Mountain Resort) would be willing to make an immediate payment to Talisker in an amount that, according to its independent expert, exceeds the fair rental value of the property for the four-year period from May 1, 2011, to April 30, 2015, in return for Talisker's immediate agreement to a stay of eviction through the next ski season," the resort's attorney, Alan Sullivan, wrote in the letter.
The letter obtained by the Deseret News through an open records request.
John Lund, an attorney with Talisker, said the two parties have met in mediation and continue to negotiate. A court hearing is set for Aug. 27, at which time the judge overseeing the case is expected to determine a bond amount to allow Park City Mountain Resort to continue occupying the disputed property.
"There’s two tracks here," Lund said. "One is the mediation track, which is continuing at this point, and the other is the litigation track, the court track, and that leads to this hearing (Aug. 27) where the court will decide the amount of the bond."
Park City Mountain Resort was served with an eviction notice last August by Talisker, which was stayed by District Judge Ryan Harris to allow for negotiations to continue.
Lund said that once a bond amount has been established, it will be up to Park City Mountain Resort to either pay the lease or honor the eviction notice by vacating the property.
"The decision will quickly turn to Park City to tell the world that they’re going to post the bond the court requires or (they) are not," he said. "They basically have to decide, once they know that amount, if they’re going to put it up and continue to operate or not."
While a bond would not settle the long-term issues of property ownership, Lund said it would allow Park City Mountain Resort to continue operations until the legal questions of the resort's lease are settled.
"They can continue the stay, and they can continue to operate, sell tickets, operate their resort on our land, I guess, until the case is fully determined on appeal," he said. "That could be not just next year, but could be longer than that."
Sullivan said he could not discuss the ongoing mediation with Talisker but added that resort officials had not received a response to the letter sent last week.
"The letter really does speak for itself," he said. "It's pretty clear."
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