NORTH CREEK - Open for less than a month, state-owned Gore Mountain Ski Center has apparently irked more than 380 people with its newly imposed $10 premium parking fee.
The "Skiers Against Paid Parking at Gore" group on the popular social networking site Facebook has become the place for angry skiers and snow-boarders to protest ever-rising costs at the ski center, operated by the Olympic Regional Development Authority. This Facebook site has hosted hundreds of posts and comments by those who see the new parking fees as just another money grab.
"How are there plenty of smaller mountains, with way cheaper lift tickets, surviving without paid parking? Gore just knows that they could charge $30 for the entire front lot if they wanted, and it would still be full of Jersey plates every weekend," one commenter said. "These are the things that keep people away from the mountain and make customers feel unappreciated."
Prior to this year, parking at Gore had been on a first-come, first-serve basis.
But faced with a $7 million shortfall in its $26 million budget, ORDA venues are looking for ways to boost the cash flow.
A weekend day-pass at the mountain is $75.
Last week, Gore Mountain Manager Mike Pratt said that the premium parking concept was his idea and that only 25 percent of the parking lot closest to the base lodge is now considered premium.
And premium parking fees aren't limited to Gore Mountain.
Gore's sister mountain, Whiteface, charges a $15 fee for the best spots and the Vermont skiing Mecca at Killington has a $10 premium fee.
But for the nearly 400 members of the anti-parking fee group, there is no excuse for the mountain's new fee, especially in a recession.
"I was utterly shocked when I heard they were going to be doing this," another commenter said on the site. "As if it isn't hard enough to scrounge up the money to pay for a lift ticket in this economic climate."
The Facebook group's administrator, Jeffrey Moeckel has been posting the contact information for ORDA brass and state elected officials, as well as keeping a running tally of the cars in the premium lot.
He claims he was posting polite - but critical - comments on the official Gore Facebook page and was promptly "un-friended."
According to Moeckel, between five and eight cars have been in the premium spots on weekdays, while only 20 parked in the best spots last weekend.