By MARK A. YORK
Express Staff Writer
The Community School in Sun Valley has agreed to lease the Bald Mountain Inn in Warm Springs for use as part of a new residential student program beginning with the 2011-12 school year.
"We are taking a big step at the school by creating a residential component," Head of School David Holmes said. "The leasing of the beautiful Bald Mountain Inn enables us to take this step in a modest way this coming school year. In future years, we plan to recruit 35-40 students from across the nation and overseas."
The building, located only steps from the Warm Springs Lodge, will accommodate high school students coming to the private Community School from outside the Wood River Valley. It is ideally located for student athletes joining the Sun Valley Ski Academy next year, Director of Development Lisa Stelck said in a press statement.
"For SVSA's competitive skiers and snowboarders, the location couldn't be better," Holmes said. "In addition, the new residential facility gives the new Sun Valley Ski Academy—and the school—a national presence. We hope to recruit outstanding winter athletes to Sun Valley."
The Bald Mountain Inn building includes 15 double and triple-occupancy rooms with private baths, as well as common areas that can be used for study. According to the news release, the school plans to take occupancy Aug. 1 on a three-year lease, and welcome the first boarding students at the end of the month. Plans call for the space to be used to house boarding students and live-in dorm parents and faculty.
"As I begin my new role as head of school, I am excited about these strategic moves to enrich the mission of the school," Holmes said. "Equally important, I believe the dorm and the Ski Academy will strengthen and enhance the Sun Valley community. The school and community are connected by history and by our ambitious vision for the future."
Warm Springs businessman Brian Barsotti said the inn is owned by a group of five people, including himself.
Dan Ross, the inn's general manager, said the hotel would have been profitable every year since it opened in 2004 except for "ill-conceived financial arrangements." He said maintenance costs on the 40-year-old building, if it were to be continued to be operated as a hotel, could also become burdensome. He said he advised the inn's owners early this year to consider putting it to a different use, and the proposal by the Community School to lease it arose in March.
"It's a great idea," he said.