Claremont won’t renew Arrowhead club lease with current terms

Valley News Correspondent
Published: 4/21/2023 3:42:34 PM
Modified: 4/21/2023 3:40:43 PM

CLAREMONT — The Arrowhead Recreation Club board has scheduled a public meeting for Tuesday to formulate a response to a letter from the city advising the club that the current lease, which expires in two years, will not be renewed in its present format.

The board met for a second time in a closed door session on Wednesday to discuss a potential new lease. On March 31, the board voted to table a decision on whether to accept a new operating agreement proposed by the city and vacate the current lease.

“We expect to answer, point by point, the city’s letter and hopefully get a consensus on how to move forward,” Jon Nelson, chairman of the club’s board, said on Thursday about next week’s meeting.

Parks and Recreation Director Nick Lawrence sent the letter to the board on Monday, advising that it wanted a response by April 27 regarding the proposed new operating agreement that the city wants to put into effect this spring.

“We are hoping to hear from them if they are willing to negotiate, by the 27th,” Lawrence said in a phone interview on Wednesday. “We are not going to leave it on the table forever. Hopefully they will talk it out and we can find out what the sticking points are. Our intent has been clear.”

Lawrence and City Manager Yoshi Manale both have said they think the new agreement will shore up the club’s finances and provide for long-term stability for its winter operations. Long-time club members disagree and believe the agreement will only lead to the demise of the club because it will no longer have access to the main floor of the Arrowhead lodge.

The city’s proposal would displace the club from the main floor of the lodge, where it sells tickets, serves food and allows people to get warm during winter activities that include tubing, skiing, snowboarding and ice skating. Access to the kitchen facilities would remain, but the food would have to be carried down a flight of stairs.

A separate operating agreement, still not signed, between the city and The Wheel House bike shop would allow the shop to move its business into the main lodge space. The Wheel House has been leading the effort to build new mountain bike trails on the wooded section of Arrowhead and wants to better serve the mountain biking community that is a growing presence on the hill.

Nelson said many on the board believe the city’s proposed agreement, which would move the group’s lodge to the smaller basement area, “does not give ARC much of a future.”

“I think there is a spot we can get to,” Nelson said. “There will always be some people who are unhappy, but we want to work with the city and find a compromise that gives ARC a future and the city what it wants.”

The strongly worded letter from Lawrence also cited a few conditions of the current club lease that the city said are not being met and demands the club come into immediate compliance.

“You are also put on notice that the city will expect full and immediate compliance with all terms and conditions of this lease until the current lease terms ends,” Lawrence wrote.

It further demands that the club “cease and desist” from renting the lodge or using it for any other purpose except winter and other outdoor activities, as the lease stipulates. The club must also provide an operating budget, hold quarterly operating meetings with the city manager and form and implement a safety committee.

“That (proposed operating agreement) was our first attempt, and it’s taken a month and we’ve not heard anything back,” Lawrence said. “That is pretty much the whole reason for the letter, to drive home the point the city is not interested in continuing what we are doing and hoping you will respond to what we put on the table. We are getting a sense they are just dragging their feet and there is no urgency to respond to what we gave them. This might light a little fire to see what they are thinking.”

Lawrence also stressed that if a new agreement is not accepted, the city has no intention of forcing the club out before the current lease expires.

Patrick O’Grady can be reached at pogclmt@gmail.com.




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