June Mountain Ski Area on Thursday suspended its operations for the foreseeable future, Mammoth Mountain Ski Area announced on Thursday.
The resort will shut down immediately. Its summer season, set to open yesterday (Thursday), was cut down.
The 2012-13 winter season will not happen at all, leaving the lifts idle and employees scrambling to find work.
The news came as a “complete surprise” to June Lake’s incoming county supervisor, Tim Alpers. He was in Southern California on business when he found out.
“I was wondering why my phone started ringing off the hook,” he said. “When my wife, Pam told me, I thought maybe I misheard her. Then, I saw Connie Black (the owner of June Lake’s award-winning Double Eagle Resort and Spa) had called and I knew it was bad.”
What made the news worse was the abruptness.
“I’m concerned about the complete lack of warning,” he said. “I think we need to call a special board of supervisors meeting, a town hall meeting, we need to look at the lease, we need to see if there are any options at all, see if any entrepreneurs might be willing to look at buying it. This is going to be absolutely devastating to the whole community.”
Alpers was not the only one caught off-guard.
“A lot of people are going to be out of work,” said Black, who said she is the second largest employer in June Lake (after Mammoth Mountain), with about 80 employees on the payroll. “This is a real blow to the June Lake community.”
“We are all talking among ourselves, we are wondering how the community is going to absorb this kind of impact. Do we say, ok, this is the way it is, or do we put our heads together and try to figure out a way to change this.
“We’ve lost a lot of people in the past few years. If we keep going this way, June Lake would be a ghost town.
“Right now, we just don’t have enough information to know what the facts are but we are going to find out.”
It came down to a business decision for Mammoth Mountain, CEO Rusty Gregory said in a press release.
“June has operated at an annual deficit each year since its purchase in 1986,” he said.
“It is time to invest some of this subsidy into the analysis and planning required to position the resort for a sustainable future, then secure the approvals and financing required to create it.”
Elsewhere in the press release, communications director Joani Lynch said in the weeks to come, Mammoth Mountain will be working to determine if and to what extent it can absorb June’s year round workforce, which suffered 75 layoffs this season as a result of a low-snow year.
June was heavily subsidized by Mammoth Mountain.
Mammoth purchased June Mountain in 1986 with the idea of significantly increasing the size of the resort by building new facilities, extending new runs to the June Lake Village, and fostering additional developed ski areas along the San Joaquin Ridge, resulting in a connection between Mammoth and June Mountains, she wrote in the release.
“For a number of reasons, these plans were never realized and June Mountain has, in turn, suffered from an identity crisis that has both stifled its ability to achieve its full potential and required substantial financial subsidy from Mammoth on an annual basis.
“Cessation of operations will help the company dedicate its focus to a new future for June Mountain. Mammoth will be working with its partner the U.S. Forest Service to reach the best possible result in this endeavor.”