Scott Gebers is continuing to look into the possibility of opening up the sliding hill, at the urging of the Cherokee County Board of Supervisors. The sliding hill has not been in operation for 10 years.
Supervisors are responding to questions from citizens as to why the sliding hill remains closed.
At a previous meeting, Gebers gave cost estimates that included adding a snow making machine, a three phase motor and an upgrade of electrical service. At the Tuesday meeting, Gebers presented cost estimates without the snow making machine or the electrical and motor upgrades.
The much reduced cost would be about $9,073 for the new rope, inner tubes and operating cost for the first year. Much of the cost would be long term, not needing to be paid annually. There would be an additional $7,570 cost for inner tube covers with handles, as recommended by the insurance company.
It appears that the equipment could not be set up for this winter. The rope has to be manufactured after being ordered and would not likely be available before February if ordered right away.
"There's no money in this year's budget, anyway," Gebers said.
Use of the hill would vary considerably from year to year without snow making equipment. During the last six years of operation, the number of people using the hill ranged from 43 in 1990 to 597 in 1994 (with the exception of 1992 when it was closed completely).
Gebers noted that there are people using the sliding hill now, without the benefit of the tow rope. As for liability for use of the unsupervised hill, the county has a similar liability as when hunters use county property.
The insurance company recommends that the sliding hill have four people supervise the hill when the tow rope is in operation and that the county prohibit people from being on the hill at other times.
Being supervised is no guarantee of safety. A few years back, a person died in an accident on a sliding hill in Dickinson County. Ambulances are frequently called to sliding hills or are parked at sliding hills during operation.
"There is some danger," Gebers said.
However, the insurance companies will cover the activity as part of the regular coverage for the county, Gebers said.
Gebers was asked how the Cherokee County Conservation Board members felt about the sliding hill. He said that on the one hand it is service that can be provided to citizens but on the other hand, it puts a wrench into the plans to remodel and open the sliding hill warming building as a lodge.
A grant application has been made for the remodeling project. If completed, Gebers said he would expect the lodge to be rented out every weekend through the summer, with some stays through the week and to also be rented out at times during hunting season, which overlaps the snow sliding season.
He said that the sliding hill would probably not be used when the lodge is rented out for the weekend.
Gebers has been asked to bring back more information to the supervisors.