Jay Peak Controversy


Ian Major

Jay Peak

I stand with Jay.

For approximately the past eight years, Jay Peak Resort has been involved with the United States EB-5 program. This is where foreign investors spend half a million dollars each in exchange for green cards and eventual citizenship in the United States.

This programs involvement with Jay Peak has been overseen by the resorts owners, Bill Stenger and Ariel Quiros. They set a goal to raise $350 million through this program to help with resort expansions, as well as redevelopment in additional areas of Newport, Vermont.

Recently, Stenger and Quiros have been accused of running a ponzi-like scheme where supposedly $200 million of the $350 million has been mismanaged.

I have considered myself to be part of the Jay Peak community in some form or another for most of my life. From learning to snowboard at the resort as a young kid to now ending my fifth season as a part-time snowboard coach, the mountain and surrounding areas have always played a huge role in my life.

Since the beginning of the EB-5 development at Jay Peak, I have witnessed all kinds of changes happening to the resort, including several building demolitions and pretty consistent year-round construction.

For me, the resort is and always will be about the snow, skiing, and riding. Over the years of development I have heard many people, myself included to some extent, talking about how the mountain just isn’t how it use to be — that everything we might have thought the mountain stood for had started to travel down a path that we didn’t want it to.

Once I found myself more open minded about the development, I no longer look at the development as an eyesore, but as a great sign of potential for the future of the Northeast Kingdom.

Vermont’s NEK is one of the leaders for poverty and unemployment in the state. The development at Jay Peak has been playing a role in changing this. If you were to ask anyone in the NEK if they or someone they know works at the resort, nine times out of 10 there is a good chance their response will be yes.

On Wednesday Apr. 13, I was told that something weird was going on at the resort and that a lot of employees were not being allowed into their offices. Around noon of the following day, my media newsfeeds were blowing up with breaking news articles regarding the EB-5 financial fraud allegations.
After disregarding the majority of the content filling these articles and waiting for an official statement from the resort, I found out that the resort’s General Manager Steve Wright will be working with the new appointed management members of Leisure Hotels and Resorts to continue managing the resort the same as it always has been.

I was relived to find out this information, because myself and many others were simply wondering, would the ski season be halted with potentially several weeks’ worth of snow and business left to be had? Thank God the answer turned out to be no, because many individuals, like myself, still aren’t ready to call it quits for the season yet.

My overall understanding is that the only two jobs and people that this issue is currently affecting in negative ways are the resorts owners, as both Quiros and Stenger are currently not supposed to have any say in the resorts operations due to the ongoing investigations.

Sure, there is reason to feel upset and somewhat cheated with this issue, but ultimately these knots should not really be affecting any current tourism, seeing how these legal processes are not connected to the resort’s daily operations. I feel that eventually everything will work out and construction will continue at both the resort and in Newport, as the NEK will hopefully continue to move toward a more sustainable future.

Jay Peak will continue to serve as one of my main sources for recreation. The resort is, was, and always will be about the snow, the mountain, and the skiing and riding.

Ultimately, I feel like everyone should simply tone their mockery-styled feelings down a notch towards Jay. Even though we all find ourselves guilty of it from time to time, judgment still makes individuals come off as being uneducated.