Snow Bowl redevelopment plows forward

By Stephanie Grinnell | Apr 19, 2014
Photo by: Stephanie Grinnell Several projects have already begun at Camden Snow Bowl, including timber harvesting, that led to closure of parts of the town-owned facility.

Camden — With a long and successful winter season behind it, Camden Snow Bowl is getting a makeover this summer.

Plans for redevelopment of the town-owned ski and recreation area have been in the works since 2007 when the Ragged Mountain Recreation Area Redevelopment Committee was formed. Last fall, voters approved a $2 million bond — to be supplemented by $4.5 million in privately-raised funds — to carry out a three-phase redevelopment. This year marks the beginning of phase 1.

Work began in March with removal of nearly 15 acres of trees and a meeting with the Planning Board to address parking areas. April 1, Snow Bowl manager Landon Fake updated selectmen on progress as well.

He said this phase, which he expects to last through the summer, will see removal of the ski lifts, clearing and stumping on 15 acres, new electrical pole installations, a doubling of snow-making capacity, rebuilding of some of the mountain bike trails, a temporary relocation of the parking area, rebuilding of a number of outbuildings and a leased modular unit for ski rentals.

Fake said it is anticipated the town-owned facility will move to a six-day week rather than five as well as increase its marketing presence and created new trail maps as the redevelopment progresses. Pricing and staffing structures will also be reconsidered, he said.

Currently, logging is under way. Fake noted there are several things happening with the wood being removed — chips will be sent to a biomass plant, logs to go to chip mills and saw logs will be taken to local re-salers. He said it is likely the original estimate of $10,000 income from the sale of wood will be "downgraded" because it is difficult for the heavy equipment to get up and down the hill.

Another potential source of income, the T-bar lifts, are for sale and several inquiries have been made, Fake said.

The chairs will be sent to a company in New Hampshire for sandblasting and galvanization.

"Most of the ski area is impacted," Fake said, adding the facility will be closed to public at times through the summer and some trails will be discontinued on a temporary basis.

Events already booked for the summer will necessitate organization of alternative parking, he said.

According to redevelopment information posted on the Snow Bowl website, the trails most affected by the work are 22 Tacks and Hosmer Brook Trail.

"Once the project is under way, several crews may be working in various places on the mountain at any given time. People will be going up and down all the trails in various vehicles, from snowmobiles to ATVs, grapple skidders, harvesters, cranes, excavators and other equipment. Large parts of the parking lot will be used for equipment storage, tree limbing, chipping and loading operations, fabrication areas and log yarding," the website states. "As far as public access goes, logging operations and lift and trail constructions sites are dangerous. Equipment operators often cannot see pedestrians. ... For these reasons, much of the Snow Bowl will be off limits at various times during the spring, summer and fall. Because it is a complex project with a variety of contractors and much of the work is dependent on the weather, we cannot predict what areas will be affected at what times."

The gate to the facility will be closed as needed; the website will offer updates to to which trails are open. Snow Bowl staff recommends those looking for an alternative outdoor recreation site consider other town-owned parks. A guide to the parks is available at the town office and other places around town as well as a link below this story.

For updated information about the Snow Bowl redevelopment, go online to camdensnowbowl.com/redevelopment.

Courier Publications Editor Stephanie Grinnell can be reached at 236-8511 or by email at sgrinnell@villagesoup.com.

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Stephanie Grinnell
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Stephanie is editor of The Republican Journal in Belfast. She previously served as editor of Camden Herald following its return in April 2012.

Stephanie also was editor of VillageSoup's Capital Weekly in Augusta and has nearly a decade of experience in the newspaper business ranging from southern and central Maine to Waldo County.

Outside the office, she enjoys reading, cooking and gardening.

Stephanie lives in Washington with her husband Jeff, four children, a dog named Chewbacca, a rabbit and chickens.

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