ASHLAND — Mt. Ashland Ski Area officials said they will expand the parking lot in early September after a Jackson County hearings officer ruled this week that former Ashland City Councilor Eric Navickas lacked legal standing to challenge the project.
The ski area will add 101 parking spaces to the lot. Material removed for that expansion will be used to recontour the Sonnet beginner run to give it a more gentle, gradual slope.
"We're very happy that the hearings officer granted us our motion to dismiss. We're ready to move ahead," said ski area General Manager Kim Clark.
Navickas, who now lives in Prospect, said he was disappointed that the hearings officer would not let the case move forward on its merits.
"It is very frustrating to be denied access to justice," he said.
Navickas said he plans to appeal the decision to the state Land Use Board of Appeals, but said the parking lot expansion likely would be finished before any LUBA ruling could be issued.
Navickas has voiced concerns that moving dirt for the parking lot expansion and recontouring the Sonnet beginner's hill could cause sedimentation in the Ashland Creek and Cottonwood Creek watersheds.
The parking lot expansion, beginners' hill recontouring, restoration projects and last spring's widening of several runs will cost an estimated $250,000.
The Mt. Ashland Association has raised more than $195,000 toward that goal and is continuing to seek donations.
The ski area has no plans at this time to carry out a major expansion that would include new ski runs and chairlifts.
The U.S. Forest Service approved the new ski runs, chairlifts and other additions, which would cost at least $3.5 million.
Navickas has been a longtime opponent of the full expansion.
Vickie Aldous is a reporter for the Ashland Daily Tidings. She can be reached at 541-479-8199 or firstname.lastname@example.org.