RUMFORD — Visitors at Black Mountain of Maine ski resort on opening day Sunday are in for a surprise thanks to $100,000 in donated labor, equipment and materials.
In the past three months, more than 100 contractors and volunteers across Maine — out of compassion for the ski area — helped the resort expand its Nordic area into a world-class facility
“It's pretty overwhelming,” said Roger Arsenault, president of the Black Mountain Board of Directors. “A lot of people with expertise in their field have stepped to the plate.”
Those people include Bob Pidacks, the owner of R.S. Pidacks Inc., a rock-crushing and screening business in Livermore.
Pidacks and his crew and equipment blasted and removed 8,000 yards of ledge to widen the Nordic competition stadium by 75 feet to enable mass starts of 250 skiers, Arsenault said.
Pidacks also brought in 3,000 yards of material to fill the area and created a 1-percent grade to the finish line.
“If we had paid for all of that, that was in the $80,000 range and that's what was insurmountable for us,” Arsenault said.
Over the past two years, Black Mountain applied for three grants to fund its vision of a $250,000 expansion and stadium timed for next month's U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association's Cross Country Ski Championships.
The resort didn't get the grants, but officials decided to “go for it” anyway, doing what little they could afford. They had to renovate the old base lodge to create cabins for ski waxing, construct a new timing building, widen trails to national specifications and widen the stadium.
“This past year, we had looked for the minimum we had to do and Bob Pidacks ended up doing more than what we paid him for, and that basically opened up the floodgates for people,” Arsenault said.
Pidacks said Wednesday he wanted to “give back” to the ski area where he grew up and raced and because his father, Bob Pidacks, and Wendall “Chummy” Broomhall were in the 1952 Olympics in Oslo, Norway. His parents also did a lot of volunteer work at Black Mountain.
“We originally went there to move 3,000 yards of ledge and it got a little out of hand, but I knew they had very limited funds,” Pidacks said.
“I probably gave far more than I really planned on, but it was something that had to be done and I felt it was very important for the area and the history of Rumford,” he said.
Nichols Brothers Logging of Rumford harvested timber on the mountain to help the resort pay bills with timber proceeds. They had the logs sawed into boards in Andover and donated them for the two-story timing building, resort spokesman Craig Zurhorst said.
High-end cabinetmaker Ben Susla of Freeport donated his skills to build cabinetry in 21 new rentable waxing cabins designed by Skip MacFawn and built in the old ski lodge, Arsenault said.
“Electricians, drywallers, framers, insulators, excavators, technicians of all types, roofers, concrete guys ... the amount of in-kind support that we have received has just been gratifying, almost beyond words,” Zurhorst said.