• Sale of Ascutney lift may not doom resort
    By
     | March 06,2012
     

    Hopes of revitalizing Ascutney Mountain Resort as a ski area may have suffered a significant setback with the sale of its high-speed quad chairlift.

    But West Windsor Select Board Chairman Glenn Seward said Monday he’s been in touch with one prospective buyer and the sale of the lift may actually make the ski area more attractive.

    The West Windsor resort’s high-speed quad was recently sold to Peak Resorts, the owner of Crotched Mountain in Bennington, N.H. Peak Resorts also owns Mount Snow Resort in West Dover.

    Crotched Mountain announced the purchase on it website.

    The West Windsor resort’s high-speed detachable quad chairlift was considered essential to the resort’s revival under any new ownership. Last year, when Burke Mountain was considering buying the lift, Parker Riehle of the Vermont Ski Areas Association said the loss of the main lift would make selling the resort more difficult.

    But Seward said the sale of the high-speed quad may not doom the resort.

    “There are prospective buyers out there,” he said. “I have been in contact with one.”

    He declined to be more specific.

    He said “by selling the quad it lowers the asking price for the ski area, making it a bit more attractive to a perspective buyer.”

    Seward also said there is a triple lift that comes very close to where the quad ends, so not much is lost in terms of skiable terrain.

    Financial problems forced the closing of Ascutney Mountain Resort two years ago following the 2009-2010 season. The resort’s major creditor, MFW Associates, had already taken the resort’s owners, Steven and Susan Plausteiner and related entities, to Windsor County civil court where the legal battle has ensued for several years.

    In January, Judge William Cohen granted a motion by MFW Associates to allow the sale of the chairlift.

    Before the sale of the lift, the ski area had five lifts and 57 trails.

    Seward said that there’s no question the closing of Ascutney has hurt the town and the immediate area.

    “Obviously, it’s had an impact, a negative impact, with the loss of jobs, with the loss of visitors to the area, the local bed and breakfasts have suffered, the general store is suffering,” Seward said. He said Orange Lake Resorts, which operates the time share hotel at the resort, are seeing fewer visitors. He added that the impact extends to Windsor five miles away.

    Crotched Mountain will invest $3 million in lift installation and terrain expansion, which is planned to coincide with the 2012-2013 season. The new season marks the 10th anniversary of the resort’s reconstruction.

    “This lift will provide quick access to the summit, ultimately providing more value and vertical to our guests,” said Jesse Boyd, vice president of operations for St. Louis-based Peak Resorts. “Along with the lift, the addition of 25 acres of skiable terrain will be a significant upgrade for the resort.”

    Pending state and local approvals, the resort said construction and trail development are scheduled to begin this spring. The 6,000-foot, high-speed quad will replace Crotched Mountain’s fixed grip lift to the summit.

    Located in southern New Hampshire, Crotched Mountain has 17 trails and five lifts.



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