Pottawattamie County has taken over ownership of Mt. Crescent Ski Area north of Council Bluffs.
The county said it was able to receive ownership with the help of the Iowa West Foundation and Mt. Crescent owners Korby and Samantha Fleischer. The deal was finalized on Dec. 30, 2021. The county purchased the business for about $3.5 million, paying for it with an Iowa West grant of around $1.4 million and American Rescue Plan Act funds, according to Pottawattamie County Supervisor Justin Schultz.
“We are beyond pleased to partner with the county and the Fleischers to support the transition of this regional destination” Brenda Mainwaring, president and CEO of the Iowa West Foundation, said in a press release. “The last two years have reminded us just how important outdoor recreational spaces are to our communities. By providing the additional support needed to make this transition a reality, we know that the County can continue to support conservation and recreation in our region for years to come.”
Mt. Crescent first opened in 1962, and has continuously been in operation for 60 years. The Fleischers have owned and operated the ski area since 2008.
Schultz said the board examined the criteria of the American Rescue Plan and “determined we were able to leverage that money” for the purchase.
“This is big news for Mt. Crescent and our county,” he said.
The ski area, which sits adjacent to the Hitchcock Nature Center, will continue to be managed by the Fleischers through the remainder of the current season. From there, the Fleischers will have the right of first refusal for operations contracts for two years, Schultz said.
Korby Fleischer said they can see themselves continue managing it.
“I think we can all come together with the county and the vision that Pottawattamie has for a four seasons destination,” he said. “We would love to help and advise for that to happen. We have our ideas and we would love to see the feasibility study done to see how all our ideas can come together.
“We want to help out more than 100% to make this a little DisneyLand in the Midwest.”
A lot of changes and updates have been made since the Fleischers took over, but Korby said a lot of them are underground or not specific updates you can see. Changes have been made to the piping, electric, snow-making machines, chair lift upgrades and other general improvements.
“We have been lucky and blessed to have the opportunity to operate a popular ski area for the past 13 years and to be surrounded by dedicated staff, wonderful ski and snowboard enthusiasts and the best volunteer Ski Patrol around,” the Fleischers said together in the release. “We are confident and excited that Pottawattamie County will protect and expand upon what our family has worked so hard to create.”
Once the management of the property has been transitioned, the county may begin exploring the feasibility of further recreational development of the area,” the release said. Schultz said the county is using $100,000 from the Iowa West grant on a study looking at additional options to make it “an even bigger revenue generator.”
“This will always be a ski hill,” he said.
Schultz said the purchase is part of a long-term plan to purchase the entire bluff in the Hitchcock Nature Center area, noting, “Getting Mt. Crescent is a big part of that.”
“This was several years in the making,” he said, noting that negotiations broke down a few years ago before both parties came back to the table to finalize a deal.
Mt. Crescent is located at 17026 Snowhill Lane in Honey Creek. For more information on hours and activities go to skicrescent.com.
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