Members of the public joined architects, engineers, contractors, and others with experience in project development, design and construction on March 29 to hear from the Ragged Mountain Recreation Area Redevelopment Committee and architect Stephen Blatt about a new concept for the expansion of the lodge and facilities at the Camden Snow Bowl.

Building Committee Chairman Don Gross moderated the three-and-a-half-hour meeting, and began with a description of the process thus far. Gross said that estimates of costs for infrastructure, such as septic system requirements, needed power upgrades and water management, were much higher than originally expected, and that those, combined with the costs of improvements to the ski area and lift system, meant the budget for the lodge building would have to be reduced to $2 million.

After describing the infrastructure changes in detail, Gross introduced Blatt. The architect described the method used for determining the space needs for various programs and uses in the main building of the recreation area.

He said that, after evaluating a number of options, he was presenting a proposal to build an 8,000-square-foot building to house the more public activities, such as:

  • Large public gatherings
  • Kitchen facilities and food service
  • Administration
  • Rental and repair
  • Restrooms

For the time being, Blatt said, the following activities and uses would be centered in the existing A-frame lodge:

  • Conference room
  • Restrooms, in addition to those in the new building
  • Public and employee lockers
  • Race gatherings
  • Off-season uses, other than weddings
  • First aid and ski patrol
  • Storage
  • Mechanical

Blatt said the first-stage new building would be one story in height, rather than the two planned in his firm’s original drawings, saving space that would otherwise be used for stairways and elevators.

“This is all open for discussion,” said Blatt.

He said he did not expect to do much to modify the existing lodge, but that an investment in a new boiler might pay for itself within the two or three years it might take to raise enough money to build a more efficient replacement building.

“Our real hope is to tear it down in a few years,” he said of the A-frame structure. Blatt said the second-stage new building to replace the A-frame lodge “needs to be rugged and not beautiful” to house the more rustic activities it would serve.

Blatt presented what he called “a simple cartoon” showing the layout of buildings and functions at the bottom of the mountain, again reminding those present that all ideas were up for discussion.

Snow Bowl General Manager Jeff Kuller said the big meeting room, which Blatt called a great room, needed to be large enough for times when the area was receiving heavy use, such as weekends, vacations, and for special events.

“It’s like a church,” said Kuller, “You build for the Sunday services. Most of the week it’s empty. A couple of days of the year, it’s overwhelming.”

Kuller said the next step in the process was for Blatt’s firm to come back to the committee with more detailed concepts and drawings showing what new a building would look like and how it would relate to the existing lodge.

“When we know they’re coming, we will schedule another meeting,” said Kuller.

The Herald Gazette Reporter Shlomit Auciello can be reached at 207-236-8511 or by e-mail at sauciello@villagesoup.com.