By Virginia Dean, Standard Correspondent
WEST WINDSOR – Over 50 residents turned out for a public meeting at the West Windsor Town Hall on Sunday morning to hear an update on the progress Ascutney Outdoors has made over the past year.
Board members were also in attendance.
“We are pleased to be far ahead of our expectations and even more pleased that we have been able
to build a solid foundation for Ascutney Outdoors for generations to come with the help of community volunteers and donors,” said Board Chair Steve Crihfield.
Highlights of the meeting included the overwhelming support from the community for the T-bar project. The donation was originally contingent on a fully-funded capital campaign and an additional $100,000 being raised for the T-bar installation costs.
However, the contingency has been removed by the donors as a result of the fundraising to date. The donation was accepted by Ascutney Outdoors from longtime Brownsville residents, Glenn and Shelley Seward.
Also emphasized at Sunday’s meeting was the successful capital campaign for the new Ascutney Outdoors Center and the start of construction and the donation of the old Cunningham’s property to the organization from Dan Purjes of MFW Associates.
“AO is keen on securing the use of the property for large events given its proximity to the new Ascutney Outdoors Center (AOC) currently under construction,” said Crihfield.
AO does not intend to retain ownership of the Cunningham property long term, Crihfield said. A purchase and sales agreement is expected to be executed soon with Orange Lake Resorts, that owns and operates the Holiday Inn Club Vacations Mount Ascutney Resort, and has committed to supporting AO’s objectives for the Cunningham’s property.
Crihfield noted that, while the purchase price is nominal, it allows use of the property by AO under a long-term license.
“This is the best of both worlds for AO,” said Crihfield. “The donation and our subsequent sale will advance the charitable mission of AO in ways we had not considered possible a few months ago.”
Another benefit of the Cunningham’s property is that it allows AO to move its proposed tubing lift slightly eastward, skirting wetlands to avoid a costly and uncertain state permitting process.
The tubing park is slated for construction this spring.
Expansion of the AO Center is under way. The AOC will be a multi-use facility that will serve as a welcoming center and base for four-season recreational, educational and cultural activities at Ascutney Trails and for the surrounding community.
AOC Building Committee Chair Glenn Seward has confirmed that the interior masonry work is nearly complete. The exterior building panels will be ready to install by the end of this month or early February. Contractors have been selected for the electrical, plumbing and exterior construction work.
“AO continues to fine-tune the remaining details related to heating, sprinklers and other interior work,” said Seward. “Progress will continue through winter as long as Mother Nature cooperates.”
Progress is also being made with the Building for our Community capital campaign with over $600,000 raised to date, Crihfield related.
Several donations have been received from family foundations, and AO continues to reach out to a number of these organizations that support strong communities, recreation and conservation in the northeast.
With high permitting costs and an increase in certain construction estimates, AO is estimating an additional $100,000 is required to complete the campaign.
“The Ascutney Outdoors Board of Directors wishes to extend their gratitude to the community, partners and foundations for all of their support to date,” said Crihfield.
AO is a local, non-profit based in West Windsor. For further information, visit www.ascutneyoutdoors.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article first appeared in the February 1, 2018 edition of the Vermont Standard.