ASHLAND, Ore. – A group of sledders launches off the side of Mt. Ashland’s newly-contoured Sonnet trail. The trail is part of a short-term expansion project painfully close to completion.
“The sooner we get on this this spring, the better it’s going to be for the environment and the creek channel below,” said Eric Navickas, a local community activist.
Navickas is appealing the mountain’s ambitious renovations. The new parking lot is among the changes he had originally tried to fight.
Now he says he fears the lost season will jeopardize the lot’s financial future. And now that it has come this far, he says leaving it unfinished that could pose an environmental hazard.
“This was approved under the understanding that it would be done to the highest standards, and if this isn’t finished because of budget shortfalls it’s going to have severe impacts to Cottonwood Creek and the drainage below,” said Navickas.
So far the mountain has raised roughly three-quarters of its $443,000 fundraising goal for the project, which includes the parking lot as well as other improvements.
The mountain’s leadership had hoped the changes could be done last season, but added costs and poor weather got in the way.
“The weather turned on us last year and we just couldn’t get that done,” said General Manager Kim Clark. “So the plan is to complete the parking lot this summer.”
That plan will move forward whether the mountain meets its fundraising goal or not. Clark says there’s enough in the rainy day account to resume as soon as the weather allows.
But until that happens, Navickas says he’ll continue to speak out — not to stop the lot, but to speed it up.
“We need more parking here,” said Navickas. “But it needs to be done right.”