West Windsor Continuing to Explore Options for Ascutney
Property has been plagued with vandalism and uncertainty since January lodge fire, but lift served skiing could return.
Friday, February 20, 2015, NewEnglandSkiIndustry.com
In the weeks following the January 8, 2015 base lodge fire at the defunct Ascutney ski area, the West Windsor Selectboard has been trying to navigate the complicated situation as the town moves to complete the acquisition of the property.
The January 8, 2015 fire, cause yet to be determined, resulted in the the lodge being declared a total loss. Remarkably, the public drinking water system located in the basement remained largely intact. Attached mobile communications equipment was quickly replaced by AT&T. Some interior furniture also survived the blaze and will likely be donated to the town for future use. The ownership of the lodge and two acre parcel is still murky, but the Selectboard was informed the structure was not insured.
In subsequent weeks, the lodge has been subject to vandalism, resulting in the Selectboard ordering the construction of a fence around the building.
Meanwhile, discussions have been ongoing with the various organizations facilitating the purchase of the ski area. Since Federal funds will be used, many restrictions are expected to be placed on the property, limiting potential future ski operations.
Pursuant to the regulations around the Federal funding and local easement control, commercial ski operations would likely be banned. In addition, maintenance of the upper mountain ski trails would be prohibited. The town would, however potentially be allowed to have alpine skiing below 1,500 feet in elevation, roughly lining up with the former summit triple chairlift mid station.
No new structures would be allowed on the easement property, however, so the town would not be allowed to construct a lodge on the existing ski slopes. Due to the charred base lodge being located on a separate plot, the town could potentially demolish and construct a new lodge in its place, should it take ownership of that 2 acre parcel. No formal declaration has been made as to whether snowmaking would be permitted.