Saddleback aims to open

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Comments

  • marcski said:

    That being said, the odds that SB will ever operate again as a commercial ski area are very slim (IMO).
    Let's hope you're wrong, Joshua.  One thing to keep in mind is that the Berrys also own a condo or house or something like that at Saddleback.  If they sell off the ski area piece by piece, the value of their personal real estate investment greatly diminishes.  I'd like to think that when push comes to shove, they will be willing to accept less money and keep the area intact and viable, rather than liquidate it, sell off the pieces, and end up with a few more dollars in their pocket.  It will be interesting to see, for sure.  Hopefully they're not Republicans.  :)


    The value of a condo is peanuts compared to what the Berry's invested in the mountain. I'm not sure that would have any influence on their decision.
    Currently, the condo fees that are coming in are covering most of the carrying costs associated with holding on to the property.  The condo owners are in a bind: Among other things, if they stopped paying the fees, Rangeley is not picking up the plowing, the trash removal - probably even the water supply is in jeopardy. 
  • I missed this on NESI. With all the legal stuff against Majella
    here and in Australia, I don’t see them having much interest in, or being able to
    complete the sale and run Saddleback. Do the Berrys have the ability legally to
    drop the deal Majella?


    Prospective Saddleback Buyer Talked of Arranging Hostesses 'So We Don’t Have to Get the Bloody Brothel Licence'

    Prospective Saddleback Buyer Talked of Arranging Hostesses 'So
    We Don’t Have to Get the Bloody Brothel Licence'

    Majella is facing multiple lawsuits
    in Australia.

    Wednesday, May 2, 2018, NewEnglandSkiIndustry.com



    Saddleback Base Lodge, March 18, 2018



    Majella CEO Sebastian Monsour was planning to set up "private
    entertainment spaces" from Australia to the United States with special
    arrangements "so we don’t have to get the bloody brothel licence,"
    the Courier Mail reports.



    According to the Courier Mail, Monosour told employees, "You never tell
    the wives this."



    The Courier Mail also reports that La Trobe Financial won a $659,184.84 default
    judgment against Majella in March and that an entity named Hays successfully
    sued over an outstanding $34,569.15 invoice in February. Queensland Business
    Monthly reports that multiple individuals have not been paid wages from
    Majella.



    In addition, the Courier Mail reports a foreign Majella investor is suing
    Monsour and Majella in Queensland Supreme Court for "misleading and
    deceptive conduct" and that Monsour is claiming “privilege against
    self-incrimination."



    Background

    The latest saga dates back to July 2015, when the Berry family, owners of
    Saddleback, announced the Rangeley double was "at end of its useful
    life" and that operations would cease if the lift could not be replaced.
    The lift was not replaced and the ski area sat idle for the following two
    winters.



    On June 28, 2017, the Berry family announced Saddleback was being sold to the
    Majella Group
    . At that time, Majella announced the sale would be
    completed later in the summer and that a new fixed grip quad chairlift and
    T-Bar would be installed in 2017. At the time, Majella did not commit to
    operating in 2017-18.



    On September 18, 2017, Majella declared "dominoes have fallen into
    place" and that "physical work is starting" and that "the first step will be taking down the existing Rangeley
    lift
    ." As of mid December, the chairs remain on the Rangeley
    Double. However, chairs were removed from the other lifts and remain on the
    ground, now buried in snow. Saddleback's lifts have not passed state inspection
    since November 2014.



    Also on September 18, with regard to a 2017-18 reopening, Majella posted,
    "only thing that is going to hold up or delay this process is Mother
    Nature" and that Majella was "committed to opening in some capacity for the
    2017-18 ski season, assuming Mother Nature does not deliver an early winter
    with heavy snow."



    On November 9, Majella announced delays in the sale, while also
    adding uncertainty to a 2017-18 reopening by stating it "will not be a
    full opening, rather a limited operation that, if possible, will allow our
    Saddlebackers and their families to return and enjoy the mountain in some
    capacity."



    On November 21, NBC Portland reported it had "learned exclusively that the money isn’t there," adding "if the
    group doesn't come up with the money soon, the deal could fall apart
    entirely."



    In March 2018, NBC Portland released leaked audio in which Monsour stated
    "I have a very very very small amount of funds" and that
    "opening the mountain at Saddleback for the Saddleback Resort is not a
    primary concern for us."



    Saddleback did not operate during the winter of 2017-18.


  • edited May 15
    I already posted that on the last page of this discussion.
    - Sam
  • I already posted that on the last page of this discussion.

    Sorry, I checked p.5-6 before posting. It still took me x2 to see yours, no headline threw me.
  • the story is so bizarre I think a lot of us needed to read it twice  ;))

  • Why are the Berries still even talking to these people?
  • This whole bit about buying a ski area with no money and opening a brothel sounds like a potential plot for the next Adam Sandler film.  

  • This whole bit about buying a ski area with no money and opening a brothel sounds like a potential plot for the next Adam Sandler film.  
    Dum an dummer 911
  • This whole bit about buying a ski area with no money and opening a brothel sounds like a potential plot for the next Adam Sandler film.  
    What it shows is that either no due diligence was done on Majella, or if it was done, it was done incompetently.  If I had to guess, I'd say it's the former. 

    This all comes across that the Berrys telegraphed a position of desperation. 
  • edited May 17

    This whole bit about buying a ski area with no money and opening a brothel sounds like a potential plot for the next Adam Sandler film.  
    What it shows is that either no due diligence was done on Majella, or if it was done, it was done incompetently.  If I had to guess, I'd say it's the former. 

    This all comes across that the Berrys telegraphed a position of desperation. 
    The Berrys are running a Clown Show.
    This is from the Friday, October 20, 2017, NewEnglandSkiIndustry.com article on page 2 of this thread:

    The
    Majella Group has had no previous involvement in the ski industry.
    Majella's founder is Professor Frank Monsour, the son of Lebanese
    immigrants who became an accomplished Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeon
    in Australia. The CEO of Majella Group is Monsour's son, Sebastian
    Monsour. In 2012, the Sydney Morning Herald claimed
    Sebastian Monsour "gained unauthorised access to City Hall, lied about a
    football career and now has come to the attention of the FBI in the
    United States."

    Are you kidding me? Anybody with half a brain could see this was not happening. How about the next paragraph from the same article? If you live in Maine you would have had to be deaf and blind not to have noticed that Sebastian Monsour and Majella had no clue about real estate development and operations, let alone developing and operating a remote ski area in the middle of Nowhere, Maine.

    Since the
    acquisition, the City of Portland has twice placed tax liens on
    Majella's office building for failure to pay property taxes. In
    addition, multiple mortgages have subsequently been taken out on the
    property, including a $1.4 million mortgage with Camden National Bank
    around the time Majella reportedly placed a deposit on Saddleback.




  • edited May 17
    IMHO Saddleback is going to be permanently on NELSAP. I'm waiting for lifts and assets to be sold off. The fact that no other potential buyers have come along in three years is very telling.

    Ski Conditions Report: A detailed report describing the snow conditions on the mountain the day of your visit. Skiers should become familiar with the following snow surface descriptions: Ice: Packed Powder, Slush: Packed Powder, Frozen Granular: Packed Powder , Packed Powder - A thin covering of snow over bare earth.

  • sugarloaf said:

    IMHO Saddleback is going to be permanently on NELSAP. I'm waiting for lifts and assets to be sold off. The fact that no other potential buyers have come along in three years is very telling.

    SMF is there and has put in a bonafide offer.  The Berrys have pretty much stone-walled them.
  • Posted Yesterday at 4:00 AM
    Updated June 4

    Possible Saddleback sale needed federal tax benefit
    The decision not to designate Rangeley an 'opportunity zone' dims the possibility that a Boston investment firm will buy and reopen the popular ski area.

    BY PETER MCGUIRESTAFF WRITER
    Prospects that a Boston investment firm might purchase and reopen Saddleback ski resort have dimmed, after the buyer’s request to include the Rangeley area in a tax-friendly investment zone was rebuffed by the LePage administration.
    In two letters to state officials this past winter, Jonathan Tower, managing partner of Arctaris Impact Fund, said the firm was prepared to invest up to $25 million to get the ski area up and running and another $75 million to $100 million over at least three years to expand the resort, which has been closed since 2015. Tower outlined a plan that included an expansion of skiable terrain, a new hotel and ski lifts.
    “Our project plan would reopen Saddleback, revitalize the Rangeley community, and attract local and tourist visitors to the area’s winter and summer benefits,” he wrote in a March 5 letter to the Department of Economic and Community Development
    To make that investment, however, the firm wanted the Rangeley area to receive an opportunity zone designation, which provides generous tax benefits for some investment in low-income areas.
    “While Saddleback includes significant acreage among its many assets, this project requires a long-term view and the Opportunity Zone designation that we have requested is integral to completing this transaction,” Tower wrote.
    Tower’s letter was among dozens of pages of documents obtained by the Portland Press Herald through a Freedom of Access request for material regarding the LePage administration’s selection of opportunity zones in Maine.
    Tower, the Rangeley town treasurer and Crystal Canney, executive director of the nonprofit Saddleback Mountain Foundation, encouraged the LePage administration to designate the Rangeley area, referencing the possibility of investment in Saddleback.
    Investment in the area might bring back 300 seasonal jobs that were lost when Saddleback closed in 2015, and revitalize the region’s tourism economy, boosters argued.
    Despite support for Rangeley, it was not included among the 32 low-income census tracts selected to be opportunity zones by LePage, who had sole authority to select zones, according to federal law.
    Rangeley wasn’t alone. Other towns, including Dexter, Newport and Howland, argued for, but did not receive, an opportunity zone, according to a review of the documents.
    Lewiston city officials said a zone selected in their city differed from the neighborhoods they asked for.
    Doug Ray, a Department of Economic and Community Development spokesman, said areas selected for the benefit were based on need but also as places most likely to receive investment.
    “It is nothing against any of the ones that weren’t chosen,” Ray said. “Any of the ones that were chosen were deemed to have a realistic chance of success to bring in new investment.”
    The department in March asked for statewide feedback about how it should select the zones and which areas should receive the benefit. Only 25 percent of eligible low-income areas could be selected for the program, according to federal law. That works out to 32 tracts in Maine.
    The state’s zones include large swaths of Washington and Aroostook counties, distressed mill towns such as Rumford, Millinocket and Hartland, and neighborhoods in southern Maine like the Portland waterfront and Maine Mall area in South Portland.
    LePage’s selection of some better-off parts of the state over economically struggling areas raised eyebrows in economic development circles and communities that were not chosen to receive the benefit.
    “All the feedback was discussed,” Ray said. “It was all presented to the governor and he had the ultimate decision on which zones were selected.”
    LePage’s office did not respond to a phone call and email asking why the governor did not select Rangeley as an opportunity zone.
    Last year’s federal tax break law included a provision that allows investors to reinvest capital gains – profits from the sale of investments – into designated low-income areas tax-free for up to 10 years, then get a 15 percent tax break on the initial investment. Any profits they make annually through the investment are tax-free.
    Saddleback closed almost four years ago, when owners Bill and Irene Berry did not get $3 million they needed for a new chairlift.
    Before it closed, Saddleback was Maine’s third-largest ski resort and one of the largest seasonal employers in Franklin County.
    The Majella Group, an Australian development company, agreed to purchase the resort last year. The company has since been plagued with lawsuits and allegations it used the purchase to attract funding through a U.S. visa program for wealthy investors, a charge the company denies. It has yet to complete a purchase of the ski resort.
    The Berry family, through a representative Friday, said there is no formal agreement with Arctaris to buy Saddleback.
    Tower, Arctaris’ managing partner, stressed in an email that winning an opportunity zone was integral to the firm’s purchase plans.
    “While I don’t pass judgment on the relative attraction of Rangeley as an opportunity zone versus other areas in Maine, it is fair to say the scope of our project plan would require greater patience than one would typically get from a traditional private equity or real estate investor,” Tower said.
    “The door is still open” for the firm to buy the ski area, but it might require a public-private partnership, he said.
    Peter McGuire can be contacted at 791-6325 or at:
    pmcguire@pressherald.com
    Twitter: PeteL_McGuire
    https://www.pressherald.com/2018/06/04/possible-saddleback-sale-needed-federal-tax-benefit/

  • Prospective Saddleback Buyer Arrested, Charged with Fraud

    Sebastian Monsour was charged by State Crime Command’s Financial and Cyber Crime Group in Australia

    Thursday, June 21, 2018, NewEnglandSkiIndustry.com



    Nearly one year after the announcement of the sale of Saddleback Mountain Resort, Majella Group's CEO Sebastian Monsour has been charged with investment fraud of over $5 million by the State Crime Command’s Financial and Cyber Crime Group in Australia.

    According to the Brisbane Times, "a number of documents and financial records and some electronic evidence" were seized following the execution of a search warrant today.

    According to Senior Constable Henderson, "We are currently under investigation as to where the money has gone but yes, it has gone."

    According to the Brisbane Times, "Monsour was charged with one count of fraud at Brisbane Watchouse where his bail was withheld."

    http://www.newenglandskiindustry.com/viewstory.php?storyid=696
    - Sam
  • Hopes for the "private entertainment spaces" are dimming.

  • Here is another article.

    Hopes that the non-profit can negotiate again??
    You ski because even if you don't do it well, it's still a blast....
  • WGAN radio, Portland Maine is reporting this story. Perhaps this will free the Berry's come up with an agreement with the non-profit foundation or find another buyer.
  • As the saying goes, truth is stranger than fiction. There's a movie in this whole sordid story.

    Let's hope that if the Berrys had any illusions as to whether or not Majella would perform, that those illusions are now obliterated.
  • edited June 29
    TomWhite said:

    WGAN radio, Portland Maine is reporting this story. Perhaps this will free the Berry's come up with an agreement with the non-profit foundation or find another buyer.

    So has others news outlets & the Boston Globe with a pic of the mtn. :(
    ISNE-I Skied New England | NESAP-the New England Ski Area Project | SOSA-Saving Our Ski Areas - Location SW of Boston MA
  • Posted June 22
    Arrest of Saddleback’s prospective buyer spurs nonprofit to try again to put the ski area back in business

    Sebastian Monsour, who said a year ago that he planned to make Saddleback the premier ski resort in North America, was jailed Thursday in Australia, charged with defrauding a Chinese investor out of $5 million.

    A group that once had been in negotiations to purchase Saddleback plans to approach the ski area’s owners about reviving those talks following the news Thursday that an Australian businessman who had entered an agreement to buy the resort was arrested and charged with fraud.
    “We see a path forward that can work and we are prepared to lead,” said Crystal Canney, executive director of the Saddleback Mountain Foundation, a nonprofit composed of area business owners and skiers.
    Sebastian Monsour, CEO of the Majella Group, was arrested Thursday following a raid of his office in Brisbane, Australia. Police in Queensland said during a news conference that the arrest followed a “long and protracted investigation” into allegations that Monsour misused $5 million he received from a Chinese investor.
    It is unclear how Monsour’s arrest will impact the sale agreement. Neither Saddleback’s owners, Bill and Irene Berry, nor the Majella Group could be reached for comment Thursday.
    Saddleback closed almost three years ago, after the Berrys could not raise the $3 million they needed for a new chairlift.
    The Saddleback Mountain Foundation reached a verbal agreement to purchase the ski area for $6 million in the fall of 2016, but were able to raise only a little more than $1 million before the Berrys opted instead for a deal with the Australia-based Majella Group in June 2017, when Monsour said he planned to make Saddleback the premier ski resort in North America.
    https://www.pressherald.com/2018/06/22/the-nonprofit-that-has-sought-to-buy-saddleback-plans-to-make-an-offer/
  • TomWhite said:

    Posted June 22
    ...The Saddleback Mountain Foundation reached a verbal agreement to purchase the ski area for $6 million in the fall of 2016, but were able to raise only a little more than $1 million before the Berrys opted instead for a deal with the Australia-based Majella Group in June 2017, when Monsour said he planned to make Saddleback the premier ski resort in North America. ...

    This paragraph (especially the bolded area) is not true. They couldn't accept donations because their 501(c)3 was not set up (it is now). They asked the Berrys for a 90-day exclusive in which to raise funds. They had pledges from many individuals and partners (Trust for Public Land and New England Forestry Foundation) lined up that was close to $6M. It's still not clear to me why the Berrys wouldn't cooperate with the Foundation.

    The SMF returned all escrowed funds.
  • Stick a fork in this one folks. It's approaching the fourth winter with no operations at Saddleback. No mention of any activity on the Sugarloaftoday forum in the last 3 weeks.

    Ski Conditions Report: A detailed report describing the snow conditions on the mountain the day of your visit. Skiers should become familiar with the following snow surface descriptions: Ice: Packed Powder, Slush: Packed Powder, Frozen Granular: Packed Powder , Packed Powder - A thin covering of snow over bare earth.

  • It certainly doesn't look good - but stranger things have happened. Eustis opened after over 30 years of being closed. Crotched did in 15. Ascutney had every functional lift removed and has reopened.
  • An uphill battle for a ski town left out in the cold


    A vacant chairlift at Saddleback Mountain.
    By Eric Wilbur GLOBE CORRESPONDENT October 30, 2018
    RANGELEY, Maine — Saddleback Mountain isn’t so much a ghost town as it is a place frozen in a state of ambiguity.
    Heading into what is expected to be its fourth consecutive season of dormancy, the ski area gives the appearance of needing only a blanket of snow in order to be ready to open for the winter. A vacant chairlift rests still in the midst of foliage just past peak, seemingly waiting for little more than the flip of a switch.
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    There’s the glow of a light in the distance of the lodge, tables and chairs settled in an inviting ambiance by windows looking out onto the empty expanse of the back deck. A “closed” trail marker, normally used to restrict access on the mountain, is instead balanced on an automatic sliding glass door a level below. Adjacent to the entrance is a window to a room that displays full racks of hoodies and long-sleeve T’s. A sign atop one of the racks champions the 50 percent off sale that probably took place at one time or another.
    ADVERTISEMENT
    However, the immediacy with which it seems Saddleback could be up and running is a direct counter to its cold reality.
    The Globe's top picks for what to see and do each weekend, in Boston and beyond.
    “We’ve been talking about this constantly for over three years,” Rangeley resident Rob Welch said, “It’s kind of an emotional drain on everyone.”
    Saddleback closed prior to the winter of 2014-15 when owners Bill and Irene Berry came up short in their bid to raise the $3 million they insisted they needed in order to install a new lift. The owners sought a new buyer for the ski area over the next three years while the small town of Rangeley sat idly by in anticipation.
    In the decade prior, the Berrys had transformed Saddleback into one of the more interesting lift-served destinations in the East, changes highlighted by the Casablanca glades and chutes which opened in 2009. The Kennebago Steeps area was billed as the “largest steep skiing and riding facility in the East,” with a dozen black and double black diamond runs that provided a truly unique skiing experience. Views from the 4,120-foot summit provided stunning views of the unspoiled northwestern Maine mountains and the expanse of Rangeley’s prized lakes. It was a ski area backed by a simplicity overshadowed by many resorts and conglomerates in the East, yet one that also promised it could pack just as fierce a punch in terms of its impressive terrain.
    “It was almost like skiing used to be back in the ’70s,” Ken McDavitt, owner of a Rangeley recreational store, said. “You could let you kids ski without having to worry about them, it wasn’t super crowded, they have a lot of woods skiing, lot of powder skiing, It just has a nice feel and vibe to it.”
    ADVERTISEMENT
    Hope that the mountain might finally reopen materialized just over a year ago when Australian developer Sebastian Monsour and the Majella Group agreed to purchase the mountain from the Berry family. But the sale has never been officially completed, and things got even murkier earlier this summer when Monsour was arrested for fraud in Australia.
    So instead the ski area sits looking down upon sleepy Rangeley in a state of purgatory for the year-round recreational destination.
    “It’s painful,” said Welch, owner of Rangeley bed and breakfast Pleasant Street Inn. “It’s painful to watch trees grow up in the middle of trails. It’s painful to watch all the equipment rusting. It’s painful to watch businesses, locally, that say, ‘Boy, if the mountain would just open we might survive.”
    Welch is originally a native of Needham who, inspired by Thoreau, moved to the remote Rangeley area in 1972 after following up on a pact he made with a high school friend to build a log cabin in the woods. He opened the Pleasant Street Inn in 2005, just as Saddleback was enjoying a revitalization under the Berrys. But today, he estimates that he has lost 20 to 25 percent of his winter business since the mountain has closed, a refrain that he said is all too common throughout town.
    “I think that’s pretty fair to say that most everybody I talk to that’s in the hospitality business, certainly they were affected equally as much, some maybe even a little more,” Welch said.
  • Second Half:

    Ken and Sandy McDavitt fall into that category. The husband and wife took over ownership of the Alpine Shop in June 2015, only to hear the news of Saddleback’s demise one month later.
    ‘It’s painful to watch trees grow up in the middle of trails. It’s painful to watch all the equipment rusting. It’s painful to watch businesses, locally, that say, “Boy, if the mountain would just open we might survive.” ’
    “It was a bit of a surprise,” Sandy McDavitt said. “We didn’t expect to hear that. But we’re entrepreneurs and sometimes you just ride the wave and sometimes that’s just what it is. Nobody expected it to be four years of not knowing the future.
    “I got hopeful last year and then things just sort of ended and went south. I’ve heard a lot of rumors recently that sound exciting, but I don’t get my hopes up.”
    The financial issues the McDavitts face with the lack of a ski area is one that plagues many businesses in Rangeley these days. Saddleback had served as a major employer during the winter months, giving employees who worked at the various inns and restaurants in town during the summer and fall months an avenue to live in the Rangeley area year-round. With the ski area gone, business owners like the McDavitts are struggling to fix the deficit in employees.
    “Here we are two to three hours from anything and people don’t have a winter job,” Sandy McDavitt said. “So they are not going to come here and work for us. All the restaurants, myself, any of the shops in town, we are so desperate for help here. There’s nobody to hire.”
    With a graduating class of 17, the local high school isn’t much help as a source of finding workers either, despite the pleading of Rangeley businesses. The workforce issue has also led to slower response time during Rangeley’s recent busy summer and fall seasons, with some establishments under pressure to accommodate guests in a more timely style, much like restaurants getting backed up due to a dearth of servers.
    “We really need that open for a lot of reasons,” Sandy McDavitt said. “Economic reasons and for what we do at least have left in this town, which is vital and doing great and well, but we don’t have anybody to work for us.”
    The protected water quality of the Rangeley lakes have long served as a prime spot for fishing, and popular snowmobile trails that have kept the region’s winters alive. But McDavitt said that one-third of her business had been from the ski crowd, so it doesn’t become an easy swap: ski business replaced by snow machines.
    Even so, ever since Saddleback shuttered, the service industries in Rangeley haven’t had a workforce that they could count on.
    There’s not much Saddleback hopefuls can count on as another winter approaches. The mountain’s website redirects to a Majella Group URL with no more information than a submit form. (Majella did not respond to an inquiry to comment.) When asked about Saddleback’s future, some people in town simply roll their eyes. Others pledge confidence that they will one day ski those slopes again.
    But mostly, there’s an uncertainty that is growing stale.
    “You want to be hopeful but you have no news and you hear a rumor, you cannot count on anything because who knows what’s right and what isn’t right,” said Ginny Nuttall, owner of Rangeley’s Noyes Real Estate.
    Rangeley residents seem to have tired of rumors as a source of news.
    “It’s less hopeful than it was. Part of it is we don’t know anything. We don’t hear anything. That’s the way business is — you have to be careful — but you just wish that it would happen, and I think that people are becoming a little more concerned.
    “I’m a little disappointed as everybody is. The ski industry is a difficult industry. You need to know what you’re doing when you buy a ski area, so you’ve got to find the right buyer for something.”
    Nuttall moved to Rangeley in 1972 and worked at Saddleback before becoming a teacher for 25 years. She said that the absence of the mountain initially impacted real estate less than she had expected, and that the region is coming off a stretch of three good years in terms of sales.
    But she knows it’s the property up Saddleback Mountain Road that would elicit the biggest roar of approval, particularly for a ski area that boasts a lodge only a little more than a decade old, and an open canvas of land just waiting for a hungry developer looking to add a golf course, hotel, zip line, or any of the other attractions that have made ski areas throughout New England year-round destinations.
    “I think there’s too much infrastructure up there that’s really usable that it won’t sell,” she said. “There’s so much potential up there.
    “It’s not the skiing that makes the money, it’s the other part. And you really have to know how to make that. If a group came in that really had ski experience and investment, that would be a great boom for the area.”
    Still, that potential lives in silence on the part of the Berrys and Majella.
    “One of my criticisms has always been to me they had a responsibility to the community and they haven’t been very forthright on the progress of moving the mountain forward with new owners,” Welch said. “The excuse always is, ‘Well we have to keep everything confidential.’ Well, yeah I guess you do, but on the other side, all of us are paying for that business model.”
    Welch was principal of the local high school from 1987-92, and he recalled how bus loads of students would make the trek to the ski area during a Tuesday ski program. That’s a fabric that the community has since lost.
    “It went beyond just selling some tickets. It had a real connection to the kids in town,” he said. “And that’s gone.
    “This was our mountain. This was everyone’s mountain.”
    Big-time skiing is only 30 miles away in Carrabassett Valley, where Sugarloaf Mountain Resort is one of the East Coast’s largest resorts, beckoning thousands of visitors every weekend. So it isn’t like every option has been swindled from local skiers and riders.
    “But it just doesn’t feel the same as Saddleback does,” Ken McDavitt said.
    McDavitt grew up in Winchester, but his family drove to northern Maine every weekend during winters to ski. His father taught skiing at former ski area Bald Mountain in Oquossoc, a Rangeley village, a job that eventually evolved into the shop that Ken and Sandy run today, inheriting 60 years of a family skiing heritage.
    Who will inherit the one that hovers over the town and its long-term sustainability still remains a mystery, even if the surroundings suggest an active winter there could be imminent.
    Instead, Rangeley waits, listens, and hopes, even if that’s a feeling that has begun to dwindle the longer things stay silent.
    Eric Wilbur can be reached at ewilbs@yahoo.com.
  • Pretty sad- like a steel town when the mill shut down.

    Not many ski resort communities could survive without their ski area. Tough to come up with a major/mid-sized resort area that closed its ski area yet continued to prosper.
  • edited November 4
    Rangely will survive as a major snowmobiling destination. Try getting a room there on a mid-winter weekend. Saddleback needs a on slope hotel to attract more than just day visits.

    I don't hold much hope that Saddleback will re-open.

    Ski Conditions Report: A detailed report describing the snow conditions on the mountain the day of your visit. Skiers should become familiar with the following snow surface descriptions: Ice: Packed Powder, Slush: Packed Powder, Frozen Granular: Packed Powder , Packed Powder - A thin covering of snow over bare earth.

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