GPRA Ski Chalet January 2019 Update

Posted on Facebook’s Borough Budget Watch Group on January 8, 2019:

Welp, the GPRA Chalet is once again OFF LIMITS to the hundreds of families involved in Mat-Su Jr. Nordics. This MSB building was paid for by taxpayers (primarily a federal grant.) Our property taxes are also paying for the utilities (heat & lights). People who use the GPRA also have to pay $5 for parking and yet…the public is only allowed to use the restrooms in the Chalet when it is convenient for the leaseholder – Lifetime Adventures – which was given control of the building by the MSB – and this private company decided NOT to allow all of the ski folks access to the building after 5:30 p.m. when they lock up. (Jr. Nordics starts at 5:30 p.m.) so everyone who is skiing in the evening has to use the one frozen Porta Potty. Some families have very young toddlers etc. and they have to wait in their vehicles. WHY IN THE WORLD DID WE BOTHER TO BUILD A SKI CHALET IF SKIERS ARE NOT ALLOWED TO USE It? I hear that many Jr. Nordic parents are planning to contact the MSB Manager, Community Development Director, and Assembly members.

There are many other people up at GPRA in the evenings using the lighted ski trails in addition to the Jr. Nordics’ kids and parents.

Also, the Colony and Palmer high school ski teams and the Alaska Nordic Racers team ski up at GPRA every week day in the afternoons until well after 5 p.m.

The peak use times for GPRA are weekday evenings and weekend days…and yet, the ski chalet is often LOCKED during those times.

Here is the Porta Potty:

A few parents pointed out to me that this Porta Potty has no lights and is pitch dark inside and thus little kids cannot safely use it.

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Here is the email I sent to the MSB Mayor, Manager, and Community Development Director the next day:

ski email 1

I also sent follow-up emails asking “What if a child gets hurt; they can’t access the building to wait for an ambulance?” and sending them a copy of the video I made.

None of them responded…but at least they did take action.

NOTE: Why couldn’t the MSB have sent me a reply – saying thank you for letting us know and here is what we have done to remedy the situation.  I take the time to send emails and take a video and they can’t even be bothered to reply to me directly. So typical.

Later that week, Lifetime Adventures changed its hours of operation and is now keeping the Chalet OPEN (just the lobby and bathrooms) until 7 p.m. on weeknights during Jr. Nordics. I talked to the Lifetime Adventures staff person in the building when it was open past 5:30 p.m. and I asked him why the change in hours and he said – All I know is my boss told me to stay here until 7 p.m. from now on.

However, an Assembly Member revealed to me that Lifetime Adventures is way behind on its $500/month lease payments and the MSB may have made some sort of agreement to PAY Lifetime Adventures to keep the building open additional hours (due to the complaints.) WUT?

If the MSB Community Development Director approves a one year lease extension for this company without having a public hearing, that would be WRONG. The public deserves to receive all financial info about this “management agreement” and then deserves to discuss it at a public meeting before the MSB takes any further behind the scenes action.

Another update:

The Palmer High School Cross Country Ski Team hosted a multi-school ski meet up at GPRA on Friday January 11th and Saturday January 12th.  PHS had to pay Lifetime Adventures approximately $1500 to rent the (MSB owned) building for this high school event!!! PHS also had to pay for a janitor for both days.  The MSBSD also set up two additional outside Porta Potties (in a place under lights.)

So – the MSB is paying Lifetime Adventures to use their own building and Lifetime Adventures owes the MSB money on its lease? HOW DOES THIS MAKE ANY FINANCIAL SENSE?

Another NOTE:

The MSB Community Development Department clearly knows when it is peak use times as that is when they send an employee up to GPRA to write parking tickets. The MSB truck was there writing tickets during Jr. Nordics and during the ski meet.

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Here is a video from one of the races at the GPRA high school invitational on Jan 12th:

The MSB’s Ski Chalet at GPRA (is “For me and not for thee”)

the-chalet-building-1

This MSB owned building cost a small fortune to build (mostly fed funds – from the Federal Transit Admin – officially it is a “bus transit station”!) and its purpose was supposed to be so that the public has a place to warm up and use the bathroom while using the Government Peak Recreation Area.

The MSB has never figured out how to run it properly so that the people can actually use it for its intended purpose. A few years ago, the MSB (without any public process) gave it to a non profit to “manage” (The Mat-Su Trails and Parks Foundation) and let this non profit keep 50% of the revenues.  (This building is rented out for weddings and other events.) The non profit put their office in the building and only opened the doors when it was convenient for them – M to F from 9 to 5. (MSTP did allow the Mat-Su Junior Nordics use the entire building in the evenings if the ski group cleaned it up and locked the door.) The non profit decided not to stay as a “tenant” (a free tenant.)

So, in the fall of 2017, the MSB put out a bid to find a new entity to manage the facility with very few requirements – such as whoever wants to manage this facility must make sure doors are open in the evenings and weekends when people are skiing. There was only one bidder. Lifetime Adventures. Their bid was $500 per mo. ($6K per year) plus 10 percent of their revenues. In FY2017, the chalet had 37K in wedding rentals. So right off the bat, it seems like the MSB is giving away tens of thousands of dollars to a lessee AND the public still will barely be able to use this public building. Lifetime Adventures now has full control of this beautiful bldg and the MSB pays most of the utilities.

Good job, MSB!

Update: Here are recent screen shots from Lifetime Venture’s website.  They are renting the Chalet for up to $1500 per weekend.  (This equals $6K per month.)  The prices are slightly less for weekdays.  Um, they are only paying the MSB $500 per month.  So, if they rent it every weekend plus on some weekdays, they could easily make thousands and thousands per month.

Lifetime Ventures Chalet rental A

 

 

Lifetime Ventures Chalet rental B

 

Here was my original post on the Borough Budget Watch Facebook group on Jan 6, 2018:

Matsu Junior Nordics begins next week up at the Gov’t Peak Rec Area. HUNDREDS of children and parents are involved in this program. Little kids to big kids. It is often very cold up on the ski trails.

The MSB has a beautiful (fairly new) 4,000 square foot Chalet located at GPRA. IT has a big open room with dozens of tables and chairs and bathrooms (and a commercial kitchen.)

The entire point of this building was to provide a warm up shelter and bathrooms for people using the ski (and bike and hiking) trails. How wonderful.

Not so fast. The hundreds of little kids skiing up at GPRA are NOT allowed to warm up in the main building. (They will only be allowed in the foyer and to use the bathrooms IF and only IF their parents agree to be the janitors.)

How did this happen? Why is it that our children who are skiing are not allowed in this building to warm up? Why are the MatSu Junior Nordics parents being forced to clean the bathrooms every evening in exchange for letting the kids use an inside bathroom instead of the ONE frozen outside Porta Potty?

Read through these documents to find out the answer.

The MSB has leased the Chalet building to Lifetime Adventures. Lifetime is paying peanuts and pocketing tons of money from rentals. Lifetime announced plans to keep the building open limited hours which do not include evenings when Junior Nordics meets. (Junior Nordics takes place M, Tues, WEd, Thurs evenings plus some afternoon.)

Now MSB is paying for ALL OF THE UTilities (heat, electricity) for this building except for phone and internet. MSB plows the parking lot. MSB owns the building, the tables and chairs, etc.

Users of the Rec area have to pay for parking. Junior Nordics participants pay a small fortune to participate. (I have three kids and I think my total cost was $600).

And yet and yet and yet…Lifetime Adventures is supposed to keep the building open to maximize its use and they are supposed to clean the bathrooms. But they are outsourcing this to volunteer Junior Nordic parents (who aren’t allowed in main warm up area. I guess we can clean the bathrooms and then wait in our cars for our kids.)

Also – Lifetime Adventures in addition to all of the rental revenue (which is a LOT) is allowed to sublease the office space. So, Lifetime got this Chalet for $500 a month (with a wonderful commercial kitchen and freezers and all the kitchen ware) and then could probably lease out the office for a lot plus collect all the rental revenue and actually MAKE a lot of money.

And this ladies and gentlemen is yet one more example of the complete and total incompetence of the MSB leaders. This “deal” is no good at all for the kids who are skiing up at GPRA.