Casper City Council Mulls Liquor License At Hogadon Ski Area Lodge
The unique and odd location of the Hogadon Ski Area's lodge, at the top of a mountain and not at the bottom, poses a peculiar problem for serving alcoholic beverages.
The City of Casper, which owns Hogadon, has an extensive chapter about liquor laws and needs to change its ordinance dealing with resort licenses, according to the agenda for Tuesday's city council meeting.
Tuesday, City Council voted on first reading an ordinance to amend the municipal code to incorporate state law language so ski areas could apply for resort liquor licenses.
Mike Reid, former mayor and owner of Poplar Wine and Spirits, outlined some of the issues the council need to consider with allowing a potential contractor to operate a bar at the new lodge.
Part of the problem with a resort liquor license is that alcohol could be served outside the lodge itself, Reid said.
But the safety issues are bigger, he said.
"Is the risk of putting this resort license up on the mountain and traveling down a road in winter on a road that is treacherous at best," Reid asked. "Is the risk worth the reward?"
The reward of awarding such a license is $20,000, he said.
Reid's business already has held two events at the lodge, and he's had to watch carefully what happens, he said.
"The issue is not just alcohol," he said. "It's the people drink it and the people who serve it."
Councilmember Charlie Powell said a resort liquor license at Hogadon is different than one at other ski areas such as Vail because people don't drive downhill from Vail's lodge.
Casper has an advantage in dealing with a bar owner at the lodge because the city owns the lodge, Powell said.
He would favor extra signage warning people about the dangers of drinking and then driving down the mountain.
Powell also would favor installing Breathalyzers or similar devices at the bar, he said.
However, Reid said that was a bad idea because someone could check their blood alcohol content with one of these devices and think they were under the limit. But if the device isn't calibrated correctly, the apparent low BAC reading could be wrong and a person could still be cited for driving under the influence, he said.
After the meeting, Mayor Kenyne Humphrey said the council will need to work on serving alcohol off-premises and the enhanced driving issues related to Casper's quirky ski area.
"The concern that we all have, including the gentlemen that spoke, is that how are we going to keep this a very safe place to enjoy a beverage, but still drive appropriately and safely down the mountain," Humphrey said.