Voters to decide $2 million Snow Bowl bond
Camden — Selectmen unanimously approved sending a $2 million bond question to voters in November for a two-year capital improvement project at Camden Snow Bowl.
There were few questions raised about the bond question itself during the public hearing Sept. 3, but Ragged Mountain Redevelopment Committee Co-Chairman Rick Knowlton explained the reasoning behind the improvements and how the requested $2 million figure was established.
The two-year project will, in the first year, make improvements to the mountain, ski lifts, snow-making equipment and lighting, among other things, Knowlton said. The second year will address the lodge, site work and parking, he added.
Knowlton said with a $200,000 challenge match expected to be completed soon, funding will stand at $4.3 million of the required $4.5 million in private funds. Selectman Don White noted the $4.5 million in private funds must be secured before the town will release the as-yet-to-be-voter-approved $2 million.
Knowlton said the $6.5 million total figure for the capital improvement project was determined by an engineering study of needed improvements at the town-owned Snow Bowl. Also included in the study was a "feasibility of fundraising" in the area, which topped out at $4.5 million, he said, leaving $2 million to be funded by the town.
Camden Snow Bowl Ski Director Duncan Matlack told select board members his team of about 30 employees — not all of whom are from Camden — collectively donated or pledged to donate a total of $10,000 to purchase one new chairlift during the redevelopment process. He said the commitment of staff is evidenced by that willingness to give.
Ragged Mountain Redevelopment Committee Co-Chairman Bob Gordon noted there will be a fundraiser Wednesday, Sept. 25 at The Waterfront in Camden in the hopes of raising much of the remaining funding still needed.
Knowlton said the improvements are anticipated to translate into a more even revenue stream because new equipment will allow for more snow-making, which in turn will lead to the Snow Bowl being open more days during the unpredictable winter season. He said improvements to the lodge also could translate into income in the summer with people renting the facility for all types of events.
Selectman Leonard Lookner said one concern he has heard from people who live near the Snow Bowl is in regard to summer events disrupting the quiet neighborhood. Knowlton said summer events rules will be dictated by the town as owners of the property.
"Nothing suggests you are giving up that responsibility," he said, adding any increase in summer revenue has not been accounted for within the budget and is not needed to maintain winter operations. "There's nothing in the budget that forces [summer events] to happen."
Knowlton said any financial surplus would stay in the Snow Bowl enterprise fund to be used as the town sees fit. Currently, if there is a shortfall in funding for the Snow Bowl, the town subsidizes the costs.
Knowlton estimated the tax impact of the $2 million bond with an average payment of $110,000 per year to be less than 3 cents per thousand of valuation.
"Very inexpensive for the Camden taxpayer," he said.
Courier Publications Editor Stephanie Grinnell can be reached at 236-8511 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(207) 236-8511 ext. 302
Stephanie has served as editor of Camden Herald since its return in April 2012.
Previously, she was editor of VillageSoup's Capital Weekly in Augusta and has worked a number of years in the newspaper business from southern 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 two chickens.