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Editorial: Another winter for Oak Mountain Ski Center in Speculator

Editorial: Another winter for Oak Mountain Ski Center in Speculator

Village of Speculator should keep running ski center until private operator can be found.

One good turn with the village of Speculator running the Oak Mountain Ski Center deserves another. That’s Mayor Neil McGovern’s thinking, anyway, and we’ll go along with it.

The village found itself in the ski business last winter, after Oak Mountain’s owner defaulted on a more-than-$1 million loan from the Hamilton County Industrial Development Agency and the ski center was put in receivership.

As a story in Friday’s Gazette indicated, the operation cost the village $30,000 net — after taking in almost $300,000 from skiers, paying about $175,000 in wages to 50 mostly part-time workers, and covering various other expenses. That’s hardly excessive considering that Oak Mountain jobs boosted economic activity in the village and surrounding area, as did skiers’ meals, lodging, etc.

Last, but not least, the operation provided taxpayers with a decent recreational activity for relatively little money — an investment in their quality of lives as well as their health. People need recreation even in small communities, and in the wintertime there aren’t always a lot of options.

There also aren’t a lot of economic development activities in a remote area like Speculator, especially in wintertime. So keeping a once-thriving but now struggling ski operation viable until a new private owner/operator can take it over is a good idea. One more season at Oak Mountain makes sense.

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