The May 2012 acquisition of Burke Mountain Resort by Jay Peak has been thought of as largely beneficial for mountain biking at Burke and the North East Kingdom in general, with the added investment having the potential to greatly improve infrastructure and amenities both within the bike park and in the surrounding areas. The renamed “Q Burke” has improved snowmaking capabilities and there are plans for new lodging construction in the not-so-distant future.
Yet in the past few weeks relations between Q Burke and The Kingdom Trails Association (KTA) seem to have gone sideways (and not in a rad “gettin’ sideways” way). The drama began to unfold earlier this month when Ary Quiros, now President and CEO of Q Burke announced that the resort was cutting ties with KTA.
The disagreement came to a head when Quiros refused to pay $20,000 to Kingdom Trails, a contractually stipulated amount which he initially claimed to be unaware of. Quiros did make the payment, but elected to end the resort’s relationship with the non-profit KTA.Ary Quiros, CEO and President of Q Burke
The contract had been originally negotiated by Tim McGuire, Burke mountain’s previous manager. It outlined the relationship between Burke and KTA, and especially ticketing practices: Burke dealt with ticketing for KTA, charging visitors $20 for a lift ticket and $15 for a Kingdom Trails pass. But Quiros was quoted by vtdigger.com as saying that the $20 per visitor collected by Burke mountain was not enough to cover their cost of operating the chairlift:
They told us to just suck it up, Quiros said. But if they want to be on the mountain, they should charge $15 on top of the $35.
After a few days of angry, digitally-expressed sentiments, an equally vitriolic email appeared from Quiros, which read:
the mistake is following all of you. you have neglected a great product here and the hard working employees that make Burke work.
kingdom trails took advantage of a weak and vulnerable organization to their benefit. now I have stopped it with great pleasure.
burke is coming back strong and it’s not afraid to do what is right.
I assure you I will not follow you or your group so do what you have to do.
this is an exciting place here and believe me, it’s not because of kingdom trails.
(source: UVMBA https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/uvmba/jM5cnYOfTh0)
There is hope for some middle ground here, as Jay Peak owner Bill Stenger has since stepped in and relieved tensions by acknowledging the importance of KTA in establishing Burke as a mountain bike destination, and suggesting that there may still be some ways for the two organizations to cooperate:
I can say that we still have the highest regard for KT and wish to find the proper working relationship that benefits KT and Burke Mt’s operations,” Stenger wrote. “We will reach out to KT to continue to work on a formula that is healthy and successful for all. (vtdigger.com)
Likewise, KTA director Tim Tierney has encouraged people to continue supporting Q Burke and to look forward to a continuation of the (hopefully) symbiotic relationship between the for-profit resort and his non-profit trail association.