Agreements over use of Claremont recreation area still not final

Valley News Correspondent
Published: 8/11/2023 5:39:57 PM
Modified: 8/11/2023 5:40:03 PM

CLAREMONT — For a second time, the City Council has postponed a vote on two separate operating agreements between the city and Arrowhead Recreation Club and the city and The Wheel House bike shop for the use of the Arrowhead lodge and property on Robert Easter Way.

The 5-4 motion to table the decision came after Councilor Nick Koloski said he wanted to see the cost and timeline for the city to build handicap-accessible bathrooms in the lodge basement, which is stipulated as a condition of the agreements. Further, councilors were not pleased they received a memorandum of understanding between the recreation club and the bike shop just hours before Wednesday’s meeting and the public had not seen it yet.

Koloski said putting the bathroom upgrades in the city’s capital improvement plan means nothing because there are items in the plan which have not received funding for 20 years.

“We are now entering into an agreement not knowing what that cost will be,” Koloski said. “I agree with the concept and where we are going, but my concern is not having these numbers that I’m being asked to commit the community for in renovating the bathrooms, let alone the timeframe.”

Additionally, changes made to the documents since the last council meeting had not been officially voted on by the recreation club’s board, nor had The Wheel House signed its agreement.

“We usually get approved documents. It has never been this way,” Councilor Andrew O’Hearne said.

City Manager Yoshi Manale said both parties had “tentatively” agreed to the changes and were waiting for the council to approve the agreements first.

Manale listed the changes to the agreements including the removal of a proposed wraparound deck on the lodge’s eastern side, which would have allowed people to access the ticket booth and concessions at the back of the lodge during winter operations.

The memorandum of understanding between the recreation club and The Wheel House states there will be a “view seating area” with stools and a table for about 25 people just inside the main lodge off the outside deck facing the mountain. Additionally under the MOU, The Wheel House has agreed to be open during recreation club’s winter operating hours, which would allow people to go from the outside and the seating area to the concessions and ticket booth through the lodge and pass the bike shop. However, it also states the “preferred access is via the proposed deck,” which Manale said is no longer part of the agreements.

On Thursday, Manale said the MOU presented to the council is a draft and the two parties are waiting for council approval of the operating agreements before a final MOU with changes is signed.

Other changes in the operating agreements include options for termination if The Wheel House fails to make lease payments, a hazardous materials restriction and the requirement that the council pre-approve fees charged for events.

Brian Zutter, of the recreation club, and Rob Walker, co-owner of The Wheel House, both said they supported the changes in the agreements and urged the council to approve them. Zutter noted that the recreation club board had already voted for the agreement before the council asked for some changes in July.

“I can’t encourage you enough to move forward with this,” Zutter said. “I think it will be great for the community and will be a great partnership. The board has said we are behind you on this.”

The city has been trying to finalize the agreements for several months. Locating the bike shop at the lodge is intended to make the city-owned recreation area a four-season attraction, with mountain bikers coming to ride in the spring, summer and fall.

The Arrowhead club, a small volunteer group, has run winter operations on the hill for more than 20 years and made improvements to the lodge, including adding tubing runs. Some club members and Arrowhead volunteers have opposed allowing the bike shop to take over most of the lodge, fearing it would curtail winter use of the tubing and skiing hills because the cafeteria area would be moved to the basement.

Patrick O’Grady can be reached at

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