MISSOULA — The couple hoping to buy the shuttered Marshall Mountain Ski Area says it would be "amazing" to turn that recreational land over to community use.
Now that a sale of the resort to a Missouri doctor and his family has hit the rocks, that possibility might have opened up again.
The potential sale of the 156-acre property in Marshall Canyon had alarmed local backcountry skiers and mountain bikers, worried about losing access to miles of trails. But now that the question of continued access has derailed that deal, attention is turning to the backup offer from Missoula businessman and developer Rick Wishcamper.
"My wife Rika and I really value the proximity of the mountain to Missoula and what it offers to recreationists mountain bikers and backcountry skiers and the ability to do those things that we all enjoy in Missoula that makes this Missoula little such a wonderful place to live," Wishcamper told MTN News.
Wishcamper, who owned -- and basically renovated and saved the Wilma Theater -- sees a similar opportunity to help the community at Marshall Mountain…
"Even more importantly to us was the programming, particularly children programming, that that's done out there where they're teaching so many kids to mountain bike -- and the Derailers program -- and to enjoy and be comfortable outdoors -- and the children's summer camps," Wishcamper said.
Wishcamper added they don't want to be the permanent owners of the property.
"If we can own it for 18 or 24 months or less and allow the city to work with the community and all the stakeholders to develop a comprehensive plan for using and developing infrastructure and managing it over time -- that would be amazing," Wishcamper he explained. "And we would, you know, sell the property to the city when the city's got that in place and has figured out you know its financing with open space bonds and other resources."
Wishcamper told MTN News he would hope to have the city's help in managing the site, so public access could continue during that interim period, "it's just unique in terms of all of the things that can be done up there, particularly with the proximity to town."
Spencer and Colette Melby who had hoped to purchase Marshall Mountain, have amended their civil suit and are seeking damages against the current owners and others involved in the withdrawn deal. They complain it's left them without options after Dr. Melby was recruited to work at Providence Health and was in the process of moving.