Liko-polooza: timeline of a media frenzy over Sugar Loaf

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By Jacob Wheeler
Sun editor

Neither the Glen Arbor Sun nor any other media outlet in Northern Michigan seems to know exactly if/when Liko Smith will show up to claim Sugar Loaf/allow Leelanau County inspector Steve Haugen to tour the premises. Claims that Smith and Haugen would tour the property today, January 31, and that Smith would meet the public over karaoke tonight at the Cedar Tavern proved incorrect. Liko Smith emailed various media sources today that the inspection will now take place on Friday, February 7. Meanwhile, it remains a mystery as to who actually controls/owns the long-shuttered ski resort, and what their true intentions/motives are. It’s also unclear where Liko Smith currently is.

Today at 1 p.m., Leelanau County Undersheriff Steve Morgan waited on the Sugar Loaf access road near the airstrip. It’s unclear whether he was monitoring the property, or intended to make an arrest. Meanwhile, a law enforcement source on the West Coast told the Sun that Smith failed to show up Wednesday for an appointment in Clark County (Las Vegas) Small Claims Court. He suspects that Smith is currently in California,.

One thing is certain: we journalists are pecking and clawing for every little scrap like vultures in a garbage dump. Here’s a timeline of stories produced by the local media frenzy over Sugar Loaf since late September, when Liko Smith resurfaced and began to claim he owned the resort:

• Jan. 31, Traverse Magazine: With Leelanau County officials inspecting boarded up buildings and facilities and the property’s purported owner Enliko Sean Smith in the news again, we thought our readers could use a refresher on the byzantine backstory behind the defunct Sugar Loaf Mountain Resort. This story appeared originally in the December 2010 issue of Traverse, Northern Michigan’s Magazine.

Jan. 31, Traverse City Ticker: What does the future hold for the long-shuttered Sugar Loaf Resort in Leelanau County? It’s a question residents have been asking ever since the popular ski resort closed in 2000. Now, two vastly different scenarios are emerging – scenarios that could collide this afternoon when county officials complete a scheduled inspection of the property.

• Jan. 29, WTCM Radio, Liko Smith talks to AM Radio NewsTalk 580. Podcast.

• Jan. 9, Leelanau Enterprise: Sugar Loaf Resort will undergo a thorough interior inspection by the Leelanau County Construction Code Authority sometime this month — whether the resort’s owner is there or not. Building official Steve Haugen, head of the Construction Code Authority, said he continues to hear from Eneliko “Liko” Sean Smith, who claims to be the new owner of the resort, and who promised to meet Haugen at the resort this month when the inspection is scheduled. “Whether he’s there or not, I now have a warrant signed by a judge to enter the premises and I will conduct the inspection this month one way or another,” Haugen said.

• Jan. 9, Interlochen Public Radio: Later this month, we could learn the true condition of Sugar Loaf Resort’s long-shuttered lodge and chairlifts. The lifts last carried skiers and snowboarders up the mountain 14 years ago. Leelanau County’s code inspector has permission to inspect the property even though he doesn’t know who owns the place.”>we could learn the true condition of Sugar Loaf Resort’s long-shuttered lodge and chairlifts. The lifts last carried skiers and snowboarders up the mountain 14 years ago. Leelanau County’s code inspector has permission to inspect the property even though he doesn’t know who owns the place.

• Jan. 2, Leelanau Enterprise: Although it’s been closed for more than 13 years, Sugar Loaf Resort returned to the front pages of the Enterprise again this year and is rated as the newspaper’s No. 1 news story for 2013. The long and sordid saga of the defunct and deteriorating ski resort didn’t even make the top 10 in 2012. It’s frequently made the Enterprise’s top 10 list for stories, coming in at No. 6 for 2001 after owner Remo Polselli sold ski lift tickets but never opened the resort. Sugar Loaf ended up redeeming ticket holders.

• Dec. 16, Glen Arbor Sun: Leelanau County Construction Code Authority Steve Haugen told the Glen Arbor Sun this morning that he has secured permission from a County judge to enter and inspect the Sugar Loaf property, but his busy schedule prohibits him from doing so until the first week of January.

Dec. 12, Leelanau Enterprise: The actions of Leelanau County building official Steve Haugen on Sugar Loaf Resort brought concerns Tuesday from two county commissioners on Tuesday. Haugen, in explaining what precipitated his moves to gain entrance to inspect the beleagured resort, said that he is following up on a formal complaint filed in August by the owners of townhouses located near the resort. Two commissioners expressed concern that the county avoid an appearance of targeting Sugar Loaf.

• Dec. 12, Leelanau Enterprise: Leelanau County Construction Code Authority head Steve Haugen said that a deadline has passed for anyone claiming ownership of Sugar Loaf Resort to contact him. He was seeking a warrant this week to enter the resort to document its condition. Haugen said that if his inspection of the resort uncovers any significant code violations, including an imminent danger of collapse or other serious problems, he will consider additional steps that could include condemning buildings at Sugar Loaf Resort.

Nov. 28, Leelanau Enterprise: A California judge has issued a warrant for the arrest of Eneliko “Liko” Sean Smith — the man who claims he now owns Sugar Loaf Resort. Meanwhile, the head of Leelanau County’s Construction Code Authority has threatened legal action against whoever tore down notices he posted on windows and doors at Sugar Loaf Resort last week warning that structures there could be demolished for violating building and property maintenance codes.

Nov. 26, Glen Arbor Sun: Former Sugar Loaf owner Kate Wickstrom transferred the ownership deed over the long shuttered resort to Remo Polselli in March 2013. Polselli — a hotelier who together with his wife Hanna Karcho owned Sugar Loaf from 2000-2005 — signed an Indemnification & Release Agreement on March 18, as manager of “Rock Investment Advisors”. Wickstrom, who received the transfer agreement via her Traverse City-based attorney Joe Quandt, signed on March 20. Polselli paid legal fees associated with the transfer.

• Nov. 21, Leelanau Enterprise: Leelanau County officials this week increased pressure on the owner of Sugar Loaf Resort — whoever that may really be — by taking a step that could lead to demolition of the defunct ski resort. On Monday, the head of the county’s Construction Code Authority, building offi- cial Steven M. Haugen, taped nine copies of a second “violation notice” to windows and doors at Sugar Loaf, directing the owner to contact him to schedule an interior inspection of the facility within the next 10 days.

• Nov. 14, Leelanau Enterprise: If anybody’s still interested in buying Sugar Loaf Resort, it’s still for sale. But the list price is now $8.72 million – up from the $5.7 million price that was offered for several years until last month. Last month was when Eneliko “Liko” Sean Smith of Las Vegas announced that he had acquired the resort from its un-named owner at an un-named price.

• Oct. 10, Leelanau Enterprise: The would-be owner of Sugar Loaf Resort, Eneliko “Liko” Sean Smith, has apparently lost the support of a key financial backer and is quickly becoming a subject of derision, suspicion and ridicule in online social media. Meanwhile, the Sugar Loaf Townhouse Owners Association is continuing to press county officials to obtain a warrant for a Construction Code Authority inspection of the interior of the longshuttered ski resort, and move forward with a legal process that could lead to its demolition.

Oct. 3, Glen Arbor Sun: Oscar Peters — the British-born billionaire international banker who was helping Eneliko “Liko” Smith launch Las Vegas Airways (LV Air) before Smith turned his attention toward Sugar Loaf — has dropped out of the game. Peters’ exit might leave the West Coast hotelier with no viable way to acquire the long-shuttered Leelanau County ski resort. Liko Smith had advertised Peters’ financial support on his Facebook page, “The Rok at Sugar Loaf” earlier this week, claiming that he was “partnering with Billionaire Financier Oscar Peters.” But those words have since been removed. In fact, Peters never even knew his name was being floated as an investor for Sugar Loaf.

• Oct. 3, Leelanau Enterprise: The last Leelanau County saw of Eneliko “Liko” Sean Smith was in the spring of 2010 when Smith’s plans to purchase Sugar Loaf Resort were dissolving and he was facing legal troubles in California. In April 2010 Smith pleaded “no contest” to a felony count of grand theft by embezzlement for not paying about $130,000 in room taxes on a failed hotel he managed in South Lake Tahoe, California.

Oct. 1, Glen Arbor Sun: Eneliko Sean “Liko” Smith, the enigmatic West Coast hotelier and self proclaimed “extreme sport entrepreneur” who has left a trail of dubious business transactions in his wake, is once again bidding for Sugar Loaf, the long shuttered ski resort in Leelanau County. A press release published Saturday by PRNewswire and distributed, unedited and unverified, to several media websites nationwide claimed that Smith had purchased Sugar Loaf and plans to open a 560-acre snowboarders mecca called “The RoK” by November 2014.