Last month I wrote about an amendment to North Dakota’s Parks and Recreation budget authorizing the purchase of a ski slope near Walhalla in the northeast part of North Dakota. In floor debate over the amendment, Rep. Jim Kasper questioned the originator of the amendment Rep. Dave Monson about the reason for the purchase.
To hear Monson tell it, the reason was that the Parks and Rec officials in the area need office space. According to him, they’re working out of their homes (which isn’t true according to what I hear from readers in the area) and the ski resort offers an opportunity to give them some office space while the operation of the ski slope would be leased out to a private entity.
Here’s video of the exchange:
The problem is that the intent of this purchase goes far beyond mere office space. According to an email I’ve obtained which was sent out by Walhalla Economic Devlopement Kathy Stremick, the goal is for the ski resort to be managed by Parks and Recreation and be part of the areas efforts to compete with Medora for tourism.
The full email is below.
Clearly, Rep. Monson is selling this appropriation on false pretenses. The intent of this purchase is to get the State of North Dakota into the ski resort business.
I know this is bit long, but please read, need help at SENATE APPROPRIATIONS – Hearing is Thursday – JUST an EMAIL from you would be great!
Please Forward to anyone for support.
Some of you might be aware of the fact that I and others members of the community have been discussing a transition plan for the past several years with Richard and Judith Johnson, owners of Frost fire Mountain, and the best case scenario is to keep control of the facility for the future development of tourism in Region IV . Therefore, working with ND Parks and Recreation we presented the idea to District 10 Legislators to have the State of ND purchase the facility and have it managed by ND Park and Recreation. Therefore Frost Fire Mountain would become the Pembina Gorge Interpretive Center, the ski complex, summer theater and food would be concessioned out to entrepreneurs with a lease agreement. ND Parks would have the ability to showcase the Pembina Gorge through interpretation, multi use trail head for motorized and nonmotorized, with continued expansion on all the trails, develop the cross country skiing trails, snowmobiling, Pembina River Adventures with canoeing and kayaking (shuttle and rentals)bike rentals, tour guides (driving, hiking, birding,) expand into meeting convention center, events etc…. many options to show case the region.
Medora has always been the big draw, and for the past several years we have experienced in and out of state visitors traveling the byways across the state, as they head to the Badlands, and vice versa. The Pembina Gorge Interpretive Center with the continued development of outdoor adventures will make the Rendezvous Region and “end destination” benefiting every community along the way.
District 10 Legislators agreed that this would benefit the area and ND Tourism, so, the Cavalier County JDA and Pembina County JDA committed $30,300.00 to complete a building assessment, environments site assessment and appraisal of Frost Fire Mountain.
Kathy Stremick, Director
Walhalla Economic Devlopement
City of Walhalla
PO Box 318
Walhalla, ND 58282