Arctic Valley liquor license still up in the air

Thursday, August 2, 2018 - 11:48

A gnarly battle over a small ski area’s liquor license isn’t over yet.

In June, the Alaska Alcohol & Marijuana Control Office was supposed to review a recreational site alcohol license for the Arctic Valley Ski Area’s Alpenglow Lodge. However, due to a high number of items on the board’s agenda, the issue was moved to the board’s August meeting in the Interior.

“They kind of took one look at our issue and said ‘There’s no way we can do this,’” said Arctic Valley general manager John Robinson-Wilson.

At stake is the lodge’s ability to sell alcohol during the ski season. Arctic Valley has operated with a recreational license since 2010, but a letter sent by AMCO director Erika McConnell put the license in jeopardy. In her letter, McConnell argued Arctic Valley doesn’t fit the definition of a “recreational site” under state rules.

“There do not appear to be ‘events’ regularly held at a ski area,” McConnell wrote in her recommendation. “While ski race events may be held at a ski area, there is no indication that Arctic Valley holds and is limited to such competitive events, which is a common thread of the examples provided in the statute.”

In the weeks since the June postponement, Robinson-Wilson said he’s received letters of support from numerous legislators from all political persuasions — including the likes of Eagle River Republican Rep. Lora Reinbold and Rep. Les Gara, an Anchorage Democrat. The group has also received support in the form of a resolution passed by the Anchorage Assembly and an online petition that received 1,300 signatures.

“We haven’t had anyone who said, ‘Hey, we don’t think you guys should have a permit,’” Robinson-Wilson said.

If the permit is revoked, it will severely impact the small nonprofit ski area, which relies on a small, dedicated cadre of skiers and snowboarders for support.

“Everyone recognizes this is part of ski and snowboard culture,” he said. “It’s something you find at every ski area around the world.”

The AMCO board is scheduled to take up the item at its Aug. 14 meeting at the Grand Denali Lodge in Denali Park. For more information, visit the AMCO website at

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