Wyoming Town Officials Want Businesses to Help Pay for Landslide

January 13, 2015

Jackson town councilors want landowners involved with a huge landslide to help pay to stabilize it. But the landowners are balking, saying it’s a problem for the whole town.

The bill for the planned work, after subtracting anticipated state funds and money already committed by the town, is expected to total $5.7 million.

Councilors expect landowners to help with at least some of those costs. “I am not going to be convinced that property owners don’t have a responsibility to fix their own property,” Councilor Don Frank said at a Town Council retreat.

The slide’s path spans land belonging to four owners: the town, Walgreens, the Hillside Complex and the Budge family, whose home was split in two last April.

Two owners from the Hillside building said the slide is a community-wide problem and should be largely handled by the town.

Sidewinders Tavern owner Joe Rice said ground movement will eventually reach the highway and the water main beneath it. When it does, it will become everyone’s problem, Rice said.

Rice and Rendezvous River Sports owner Aaron Pruzan said they and the other owners of the building are already contributing by allowing stabilization work to take place on their land, the Jackson Hole News and Guide reported.

Rice said they would be open to giving the town easements for the work and even open to contributing what it will cost to rebuild the parking garage for the building. But they have said they would like to see the town pick up the rest of the tab.

The other landowners involved, the Budge family and Walgreens, did not respond to the latest proposal.

The question now facing the town and other involved parties is less what stabilization work involves and more how to pay for it. The town has had a plan drafted that involves building buttresses and back-filling part of the slide with rock.

Walgreens has its own plan in place to use ground anchors to secure the hill above the drug store.

The Budge family filed a $4 million claim against the town and county saying negligence in grading and development at the base of the slide contributed to the disaster.

Town officials said that doesn’t prove the town was responsible.

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