The Missoula investors who submitted a backup offer on Marshall Mountain property believe their contract is now in place to purchase the popular recreational site, given that the original offer has been terminated.

Rick and Rika Wishcamper, along with their partners, look to close on the deal this spring and transition the property into the public domain within two years.

“We submitted a backup offer in case the offer that was in place didn't close to purchase the mountain,” Wishcamper said Thursday morning. “Since that contract was terminated, we are now the contract in place. That's my understanding.”

The initial offer was submitted by Spencer Melby, a Missouri cardiac surgeon who had accepted a job at a Missoula hospital. The contract fell apart, however, and the Melby's are seeking damages in District Court.

Their amended complaint, filed with the court last week by Goetz, Baldwin & Geddes of Bozeman, stated that another buyer had submitted the backup offer. However, the other buyer said that information was incorrect and Wishcamper confirmed the offer was his.

“We will be purchasing the property and essentially holding the property for the city to put together a comprehensive use plan and a comprehensive financing package to repurchase the property from us in 18 to 24 months,” Wishcamper said. “The conversations have been preliminary, but we've had a couple of meetings to discuss what the process will look like.”

Wishcamper identified the contract's other partners as Pam and Sandy Volkmann.

Marshall Mountain began operating as a ski area in 1941 and grew slowly with the addition of new runs. But climate change and its lack of snow – and financial setbacks – put an end to skiing in 2003.

The property was initially listed for sale around 2016.

“We're all long-time Missoulians and we appreciate what Marshall Mountain means to the recreation community, especially the mountain bike and cross-country skiing community,” Wishcamper said. “We feel that it offers such a unique opportunity for high level activity for Missoulians 10 minutes from town.”