Multi-Year Lift Installations: The New Norm?
Many areas are seeing lift projects turn into multi-year affairs due to red tape.
Saturday, August 4, 2018,

Magic Mountain Green Chair, Spring 2018
Magic Mountain Green Chair, Spring 2018

In the glory years of the New England ski industry, new lift installations were counted by the dozen each season. Provided the weather cooperated and the ski area was financially solvent, a completed lift installation was generally a done deal.

However, with ever expanding red tape and the loss of industry veterans, the New England ski industry is seeing more and more lift projects failing to be completed in a single off season.

In the past five years, 28% of the ski areas that have announced a lift installation have been unable to complete the project in one season, generally due to arduous permit processes and an over-stretched construction industry.

2018 Off Season

Of the six New England areas with installations announced for the 2018-19 season, half have either experienced or are bracing for delays.

While Ascutney Outdoors acquired a used Doppelmayr T-Bar last winter, the non-profit has been engulfed in the Vermont Act 250 permitting process for months. The group now has to wait until August 27 to see if a hearing will be required in order to get a permit for the $100,000 project.

Meanwhile, Magic Mountain is continuing to work on the poster-child for long term lift installations, the Green Chair. Commenced in 2003, the refurbished Borvig chairlift's installation has dragged on through multiple owners due to funding and labor issues. Present ownership now expects this project to be completed this month.

While progress on the Green Chair has been promising, the eagerly awaited Black Line Quad project could be held up due to permitting. Though the lift has been on-site since being shipped from Stratton this spring, "installation by winter is a much less certain proposition at that point," as the $900,000 project is in the middle of the Vermont Act 250 process. If the area is unable to obtain a timely permit from the state, it will keep the Black Triple in service for another winter.

Waterville Valley's High Country T-Bar has been in a holding pattern in recent months, as the area only has a few months out of the year in which it can conduct construction activities at elevation due to Bicknell's Thrush bird restrictions. Started last fall, the new LST T-Bar is expected to be completed for the 2018-19 season, providing a faster, less wind-susceptible lift as compared to the outgoing High Country Double.

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