Council delay could hurt Krabloonik’s season |

Council delay could hurt Krabloonik’s season

Jill Beathard
The Aspen Times
Gina and Danny Phillips are in negotiations to purchase the Krabloonik dog-sledding and restaurant business, but they need the town of Snowmass Village to reassign the lease on the property to them before they can open for the season.
Aubree Dallas/Aspen Times |

A delay on the part of the Snowmass Village Town Council could wind up preventing Krabloonik from opening in time for the season.

The elected officials agreed Monday to schedule a discussion regarding the transfer of Krabloonik’s lease to potential new owners for one of their regular meetings in January. However, the buyers said Wednesday that they need the lease to begin running sled rides, and waiting until after the critical holiday season would make it difficult for them to earn a profit this winter.

Danny and Gina Phillips are the directors of operations at the Snowmass Village dog-sledding kennel and restaurant, and they signed an agreement two months ago to purchase the business from owner and founder Dan MacEachen. The negotiations are complete except for the reassignment of the lease, an agreement MacEachen forged several years ago with the town, which owns the land Krabloonik operates on.

“We’re totally in a stop with everything until the town approves this,” Danny Phillips said Wednesday.

Without the Phillipes’ names on the lease, Danny said he can’t obtain a liquor license, liability insurance or licensing for the kennel. With MacEachen still the owner, an insurance plan would still have to be under his name.

“If we’re making the profit, we can’t run on his insurance,” Phillips said.

But without liability insurance, they can’t take guests out on sleds. Krabloonik runs three sled rides a day, and earlier this month, it was close to selling out rides over the holidays.

“We have a super-short season,” Phillips said. “We have a short amount of time to make the money to feed the dogs through the summertime.”

In scheduling the lease discussion, Town Council members asked how the business would be impacted by them waiting. Town Manager Clint Kinney told them Krabloonik would continue to operate as usual.

Kinney said Wednesday that he wasn’t aware of the potential impact to Krabloonik’s start date. The memo for the discussion Monday was prepared by Town Attorney John Dresser, who was absent from the meeting.

“I was under the assumption that things would go forward,” Kinney said of his comments at the meeting Monday. He added that he was trying to get a hold of Phillips.

“We need to be communicating more clearly,” Kinney said.

With more snow in the forecast this weekend, Phillips said he could have opened as early as next week if he had the lease. He said that he, his wife and MacEachen have been working hard to make the sale happen and that they’ve been working with the nonprofit Voices for the Krabloonik Dogs to make changes that improve the animals’ care.

“We’ve done our part, and now it’s time for the town,” Phillips said.

Mayor Markey Butler suggested that the council wait until January because she thought some revisions should be made to the lease. Her ideas, many of which the former council discussed a year ago before charges of animal abuse were levied against MacEachen, include an oversight committee that would draft standards of care that could be added to the lease.

She said Wednesday that she wished she had understood the urgency of the lease discussion.

“That’s a critical item to not only his business but to the community,” Butler said. She added that she would communicate with Kinney and her fellow council members about possibly moving up the agenda item.


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