In this photo, the T-bar is unloaded at Ascutney, by Lesnick Excavating and Miller Construction with the help of Rick Fallon.
By Virginia Dean, Standard Correspondent
WEST WINDSOR – The components of a new lift that will move skiers almost to mid-station recently arrived at Mount Ascutney.
The lift is a gift from two West Windsor families who offered to purchase and donate a 2,500-foot high-quality used Doppelmayr T-bar lift at $75,000 and to pay for related permitting expenses that are expected to run about $25,000, related Steve Crihfield, Chair of Ascutney Outdoors.
“This is a wonderful new opportunity,” said Crihfield.
The lift was previously in operation at Le Relais ski area in Quebec. The resort is about 15 minutes from Quebec City and is recognized as being family-friendly and its top-notch ski conditions and infrastructure with 32 groomed runs, 27 of which are lit for night skiing, three snow parks with jumps and modules for freestyle snowboarders.
“The T-bar arrived in Brownsville a couple of weeks ago and is being stored on site,” said Crihfield.
It will be donated to Ascutney Outdoors once matching funds are raised for the T-bar installation costs. Over $25,000 has already been raised by the community with $80,000 to go, Crihfield stated.
“We also need to complete our capital campaign for our Ascutney Outdoors Center,” said Crihfield. “We have $125,000 left until we reach our goal of $730,000.”
As an active board member of Ascutney Outdoors in charge of operations, Glenn B. Seward is proud to be a part of its mission to bring new life into Ascutney for the entire community.
“The possibility of a T-bar was a stretch goal for us, and the likelihood that it will come to fruition sooner rather than later is great,” said Seward. “This potential addition along with the new Ascutney Outdoors Center, improvements to the recreational trails, a tubing lift, and the development of educational, cultural, and environmentallyfocused programs will go a long way in fulfilling our commitment to creating year-round activities not only for the West Windsor community but also surrounding communities and visitors to the area.”
Crihfield noted that building permits have been received for the Center. Construction on the exterior shell is expected to begin in December.
“We’ve raised all of the funds needed to complete the exterior and systems,” said Crihfield. “We’re raising the final funds to complete the interior of the building and expand our trails.”
The Center is also ready to go with its new tubing lift, but is holding off construction until the spring of 2018 due to a delay with the state wetlands permit, he added.
“But we’re looking forward to kicking construction into high gear next spring/summer!” said Crihfield. “We’re really excited to be so far along toward our vision of creating community-driven, fourseasons activities on the mountain.”
The Ascutney Mountain resort was closed and dismantled in 2010. Lifts were sold, taken down in pieces and trucked away. But a grassroots movement pushed the idea of an expanded recreational trail network and, in 2013, the resort came back on the market. The town worked with the Trust for Public Land to develop a plan to purchase 469 acres of the resort land and add the acreage to the current town forest, thus securing the trail network.
In 2014 resident voters approved the Select Board to purchase the land and, in the spring of 2015, a small group of community members met to eventually form the new non-profit Mt. Ascutney Outdoors, the mission of which is “to harmoniously manage, develop, and protect the recreational, educational and environmental assets of the West Windsor town forest and adjacent land on Mt. Ascutney, while maintaining affordable access for all, for their year round enjoyment,” according to its website.
This article first appeared in the November 22, 2017 edition of the Vermont Standard.