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John Young takes post developing The Canyons resort in Park City

Brent Gardner-Smith

On Nov. 7, 2000, John Young lost an election to Jack Hatfield for Pitkin County commissioner by 342 votes. The race was so close, the county clerk thought at one point a recount would be needed.

On Nov. 8, a headhunter called and told Young about a position running the resort association at The Canyons ski resort in Park City, Utah.

On Jan. 2, Young started as executive director of the Resort Village Management Association at The Canyons, an organization similar to the Snowmass Village Resort Association.

“It’s a great professional opportunity,” Young said.

So instead of managing the pressures of growth in Pitkin County, Young is now developing a golf course, a conference center, a performing arts center, a transit center and other infrastructure to be built at the American Skiing Company resort over the next five years.

“My job is to build all this stuff and then operate it,” Young said.

The $500 million resort project will ultimately have 5,000 to 6,000 housing units – twice the number in Beaver Creek. The ski area will be the fifth largest in the U.S. and the largest in Utah. And while the ski area itself will not be hosting any 2002 Winter Olympic events, most of the alpine and Nordic skiing venues are within five miles of the resort.

Young, 49, plans to commute on a weekly basis between Aspen and Park City, at least until his daughter, a junior in high school, graduates. His wife, Linda Viera, will continue working at the Aspen Center for Women’s Health during that time.

Young worked as the town manager of Snowmass Village from 1979 to 1988 and was a resort consultant when he threw his hat in the ring last year for county commissioner.

He campaigned diligently against Hatfield, saying he would work to create more affordable housing, help preserve agriculture lands and restore civility and tolerance to Pitkin County’s land-use process.

Had he won that election, this week Young would be deeply immersed in how Pitkin County can preserve agricultural land, not deeply immersed in building a new golf course in Utah.

“I’m going to have a hand in shaping The Canyons,” Young said. “This could be one of the last major ski resorts built in the U.S.”

The organization that Young now heads is run by a seven-member board. Four of the seats are controlled by the American Skiing Company, and the company’s senior vice president of real estate development is the chair of the board. The other seats are held by property owners at the resort.

Young said that The Canyons will benefit from the experience of other resorts, including Snowmass.

“If you were to come here, you’d say `Hmmm, this is just like Snowmass,’ ” Young said, explaining that parking is at the base of the mountain and the slopeside village is connected via an eight-passenger, open-air gondola – as Snowmass has often discussed.

“But in Snowmass, they are trying to retrofit to make the base village and the mall connect,” Young said. “Here, this was planned from the beginning.”

And there is another Snowmass connection. Doug Dotson, the former town planner for Snowmass Village, is the planner in Summit County, Utah, and he has played a key role in molding The Canyons.

“He was able to integrate some of the planning concepts that Snowmass was retroactively dealing with while he was there,” Young said.

And now, Snowmass Village is coming to Young. He will be the person leading a contingent of Snowmass Village Town Council members and executives from the Aspen Skiing Co. on a tour of The Canyons base area Thursday.

“I think it is worthwhile they come here,” he said.


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