Town of West Windsor and local groups continue to work toward acquiring and redeveloping defunct ski area.
Sunday, September 13, 2015, NewEnglandSkiIndustry.com
According to a Vermont Standard report, a rope tow may operate on Mt. Ascutney this winter.
Originally developed as a surface lift ski operation in the mid 1940s, the financially troubled Ascutney Mountain ski area last operated amidst foreclosure proceedings during the 2009-10 season. The high speed quad was removed in 2012 and the triple chairlifts in 2014. The Town of West Windsor approved the acquisition of the defunct ski area on October 14, 2014. On January 8, 2015, the main lodge was lost to a fire.
Current land transfer plans call for the transfer of two tracts to the Town of West Windsor to take place by December 31, 2015. The subdivision was approved by the State of Vermont on July 31, 2015.
460 acres containing the bulk of the ski terrain is to be purchased by Trust for Public Land, then transferred to town with a conservation easement held by Upper Valley Land Trust. 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.
A 3.38 acre tract at the base of the Screaming Eagle trail is expected to be purchased by the town and not have as many use restrictions. The tract includes the maintenance building and original base lodge.
Snowdance LLC and MFW Associates are expected to retain the 2.19 acre burned main lodge tract and 38.5 acre "Mile Long Field" tract.
Plans to Reopen Ski Area
The Town of West Windsor is working with a recently formed local non profit group named Mount Ascutney Outdoors to provide skiing, biking, horseback riding, and special events on the property. Mount Ascutney Outdoors has not yet been approved as a State of Vermont entity.
mountascutneyoutdoors.org was registered by the group on August 16, 2015. A Squarespace web site was briefly posted with a mission statement "to manage, develop and protect the recreational, educational, and environmental status of the West Windsor Town Forest and adjacent land on Mt. Ascutney, while maintaining affordable acces [sic] for all, for their year-round enjoyment." As of September 13, the web site has been placed behind a password protected wall.
Plans recently presented to the Selectboard suggest the group may run a small ski operation during the winter of 2015-16, perhaps constructing a small warming hut at the edge of a parking lot. Limited ski terrain may be serviced by a rope tow.