Saddleback Community Rallies To Buy Maine Ski Resort
Saddleback, Maine's third largest resort, overlooks the Rangeley Lakes. (Saddelabck/Facebook)
After an idle 2015-16 season, Maine’s Saddleback may have new owners in its future.
Saddleback Mountain Community Resort LLC announced a verbal agreement with current owners, Irene and Bill Berry, to purchase the resort for $6 million.
If all of the pieces fall into a place, a newly-formed non-profit group, Saddleback Mountain Foundation, would operate the resort. The foundation is a coalition of Saddleback and Rangeley area condo and homeowners, businesses, and passholders hoping to revitalize the vibrancy of the area.
“We will need to raise $4 million to cover the down payment and required operating capital,” Peter Stein, Saddlback Mountain Foundation president told SnoCountry.com. Stein is leading the initiative to make Saddleback a community-based mountain.
“Whether we open for this season depends on how much we raise, how fast,” Stein told us, adding that natural snowfall will also play a role in the resort’s ability to open this year.
Last summer the Berrys announced they would not be able to open the resort if financing wasn’t secured to replace the 51-year old Rangeley lift. Funding never materialized, prospective sales never occurred, and a poor snow winter contributed to the ski area not opening for the season.
“Our initial intention is to replace the Rangeley lift within a year,” Stein told us.
The plan is also contingent on the sale of some 3,300 acres of conservation land surrounding the ski area to The Trust for Public Land.
“If we can buy that parcel, the cash they get from that sale and the community funds can take care of the Berry’s financial commitments,” Wolfe Tone, Maine State Director at The Trust for Public Land told us.
Although the Berrys have not signed any agreements, “we have stepped in to say we are willing to make commitments and realize the clock is ticking,” Tone added.
The Trust for Public Land has been in discussion with the Berrys for two years, but no deal has come to fruition. Although there are other deals on the table, this one “leads more explicitly from our community conservation efforts platform.” Tone said.
The Trust for Public Land has a legacy of projects that have a direct connection to the community, such as their efforts to help the town of Ascutney, Vermont purchase Mt. Ascutney in their efforts to revitalize the mountain as a community resource.
“This is one of the most ecologically important landscapes on the continent,” Tone told us. “The combination of the elevation of the mountains, the proximity to lakes and streams, and the intact nature of the forests make this a critical habitat for species trying to adapt to climate change.”