The recreation facilities at Ragged Mountain mean many things to many people. Whether you have skied, hiked, biked, tobogganed, paddled, played softball, football, tennis, or attended a wedding, private party or special event, you have experienced the gift that most of us call the Snow Bowl.

For 75 years, from the days of the Great Depression, the recreation area has served the outdoor recreation needs and more of thousands of neighbors, friends and guests. The majority of the effort to create and preserve the facilities and programs we know today has come from community volunteers. I am happy to report that the spirit of volunteering to support the Snow Bowl is alive and well, and I am proud to be one of approximately 50 volunteers currently working on the plan to redevelop this special area. Collectively, we hope that you like what you see and read about the status of the redevelopment project and we ask you to help us move the project forward.

Like the history of the Snow Bowl, the last five years of effort to define and deliver a comprehensive redevelopment plan for Ragged Mountain has had some ups and downs, in large part due to three years of a sluggish economy, the age and condition of existing facilities and the obligation to the taxpayers in Camden to “get it right.”

As with many projects, the ambitious list of desired improvements exceeded the funding available and adjustments to the overall scope of design were needed. The Redevelopment Committee held public meetings in December to confirm budget priorities and project goals. Over the past six months, the committee along with its architect and engineer, has worked with the Camden Parks and Recreation staff to refine the most flexible piece of the plan, the new lodge. The result is a campus plan for the base area that continues to provide the recreation programs and necessary support facilities from multiple buildings both new and old. This approach maintains the existing lodge for certain functions and allows the new lodge to be smaller, less expensive and specific to the seating and food service improvements so desperately needed.

The plan for new trails, lifts, snowmaking, lighting and utilities has changed minimally. For most of you, this will be your first look at the architecture and aesthetic design proposed for the new lodge. I, as well as the other project volunteers, hope you like it. Underlying the exterior is a floor plan that is efficient, functional and affordable.

This design concept has been unanimously endorsed by the Redevelopment Committee, Camden Parks and Recreation Committee and the Ragged Mountain Recreation Area Foundation. These endorsements, however, do not mean the design is final. Far from it. They mean it is time for the next public presentation and review. As we have from the first community forum held in December 2007, the volunteers who have worked so hard to get the project to this point want to answer your questions and seek your support.

I personally invite you to attend a community forum on Wednesday, July 27, at 7 the Snow Bowl to discuss the redevelopment project. And by community, I mean the entire region served by the recreation programs at Ragged Mountain. If you like what you see, it is important for us to hear that. If you have comments, it is important we hear them now. If you are interested in the future of the Snow Bowl, please come. Our project engineer, Will Gartley, and project architect, Steve Blatt will present their work in detail. We will continue to do everything we can to answer your questions.

The success of this redevelopment effort is dependent on community engagement and support. The capital campaign has received donations and pledges for the first half of the private funding necessary to move forward, and they are anxious to continue their work. With your support, we can complete the fundraising process and start making improvements. With your support, we can pass along to the next generation this gift that is the Ragged Mountain Recreation Area in a physical and financial condition that will insure continued operation as an affordable, healthy and fun place for families and kids for decades to come.

Rick Knowlton, of Camden, is cochairman of the Ragged Mountain Redevelopment Project.