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Snowcat Ridge reopens, has seven days to avoid being closed again by Pasco County

The sledding park says it addressed the “unsafe” conditions. But it must pass more inspections or Pasco County officials say they will shut it down again.
The indoor snow space called Arctic Igloo, which has a small bunny hill for kids and a place to make snow angels or a snowman, eventually opened during grand opening of the Snowcat Ridge alpine snow park in Dade City on Nov. 20.
The indoor snow space called Arctic Igloo, which has a small bunny hill for kids and a place to make snow angels or a snowman, eventually opened during grand opening of the Snowcat Ridge alpine snow park in Dade City on Nov. 20. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]
Published Dec. 11, 2020
Updated Dec. 11, 2020

DADE CITY — The Snowcat Ridge alpine sledding park reopened on Friday, a day after Pasco County officials shut it down for numerous safety violations.

But it opened under a seven-day temporary certificate of occupancy granted by the county. Snowcat Ridge will be closed again if it doesn’t pass final inspections by then, said Pasco County spokeswoman Tambrey Laine.

The park fixed its most pressing safety issues and was cleared by inspectors, Laine said. The temporary permit allows it to re-open but with limitations until a follow-up inspection is completed.

In a statement to the Tampa Bay Times, the park’s operator announced it reopened on Friday but did not address the seven-day deadline.

“After a thorough inspection by Pasco County this afternoon, we’ve addressed the issues reported by Pasco County officials” said park spokeswoman Vanessa Evans.

The operator said it “temporarily removed” shipping containers in the Alpine Village area. Many of the code violations county officials said they found centered on those containers.

“They have corrected the imminent life-safety violations,” Laine said.

Snowcat Ridge opened on Nov. 20 with a 60-foot sledding hill, an Arctic Igloo where kids can play in the snow and an Alpine Village with picnic tables and vendors. It markets itself as Florida’s first and only alpine snow park.

But Laine said the park should never have opened in the first place. It lacked a certificate of occupancy and only one of three required permits were approved by the county. Evans did not respond to a request for comment about the county’s statement.

Pasco County officials said they became aware of the issues on Nov. 25. The park said county inspectors arrived on Wednesday. The county shut the park down on Thursday after inspectors said they found electrical, fire, building and plumbing code violations that posed a “significant threat to public health and safety.”

Related: Pasco shuts down Snowcat Ridge for ‘unsafe’ conditions, code violations

When an owner or contractor applies for a permit seeking county approval for any kind of construction work, inspectors must examine the finished work and approve it.

But Pasco County says Snowcat Ridge skipped that step. The project sought permits but never sought final inspections. When it opened on Nov. 20, the county said just one permit had been inspected and passed that inspection. But the attraction failed to seek inspections to close out two other outstanding permits, according to the county.

County officials released 48 photos that inspectors took that they said showed “unsafe” conditions, particularly in regards to the power set-up and shipping containers used as structures.

Pasco County believes the attraction will obtain a full certificate of occupancy before the temporary certificate expires, Laine said.

“The safety of our staff and guests are our top priority and with these modifications complete, we are looking forward to welcoming guests back to Snowcat Ridge,” the park’s operator said.

The county is considering creating a position that would work full-time with business owners of “complex projects” to ensure they obtain all the required paperwork and inspections before they open, Laine said. The idea is to ensure that situations like what happened at Snowcat Ridge this week don’t happen again.

“It’s in the county’s best interest, of course, to have an attraction like this open,” she said. “We want to work with the company to ensure they can continue to operate in a safe environment.”