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Interconnect disconnected

NORTH CREEK - The highly anticipated interconnect project - that would connect Gore Mountain with the town-owned ski bowl park - is now on hold as a measure to fund the operating costs of the project stalled at the Olympic Regional Development Authority April 21.

"We had a resolution to move forward with the project," ORDA Board of Directors Chairman Joe Martens said April 23. "There was some sentiment on the board that we should be negotiating with Front Street."

Front Street Mountain Development, LLC is in the planning phase of constructing a $250 million resort complex on a parcel adjacent to the ski bowl.

"We understand that the two projects are in some ways separate and the interconnect has been in the works for a long time," Martens said. "However, Front Street stands to benefit from the ski bowl project - some board member felt we should be talking with their representatives."

ORDA passed a resolution to begin negotiations with Front Street. However, Martens said that the board never expressed a specific desired amount of economic support.

Last month, the town of Johnsburg petitioned ORDA to fund the operating costs of the interconnect. But the lack of support at ORDA this week has brought the project to a halt.

Gore Mountain Manager Mike Pratt said that he estimates an annual operating cost of $250,000 annually at the ski bowl.

"I was hoping we would get the immediate go ahead," Johnsburg Supervisor Sterling Goodspeed said April 22. "Front Street didn't even exist when the interconnect was planned - nothing proposed will connect with any specific business."

Goodspeed said that when completed, the interconnect will usher skiers and cash to downtown North Creek - bringing jobs and economic viability.

"This project is the light in one of the most dark economic times in our history," Goodspeed said. "This isn't about connecting with Front Street, it is about connecting the two mountains."

Goodspeed said that there is a perceived association between the projects, but not an actual one.

"Regardless of how you feel about Front Street or Tall Timbers, there is no way you can be against this project," he said. "It just happens that a developer is trying to take advantage of our planned project."

Martens expects the interconnect to be under way in the near future.

"I still expect that we will end up moving the project forward," Martens said.

The lift system that will link the mountains has been delivered, Goodspeed said.

ORDA convenes again in June.

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