The Sun Journal asked readers how they would save Lost Valley ski resort in Auburn. Some of their ideas and owners’ reactions:
“All you’ve got to do is connect with Bates College, make a deal with them, all students can go there and ski for nothing. They make the payment that they need, the $50,000. That would keep all the students interested in skiing and local.” Anonymous, Greene
Connie King: “We already do free skiing for the students, for Bates College and Central Maine Community College. We have a program we set up for them; they pay $3.75 per student, it comes out of their athletic fund and they ski free.”
She’s heard from some Bates students that they’d like to get more involved.
“I would LOVE to sit on a BOD” — board of directors — “(which they absolutely need) and throw around ideas and be part of the revitalization of LV. I believe it could be a fantastic year-round venue.” Beryle Martin, Auburn
King: “That’s kind of what the Friends of Lost Valley is (becoming.)” The Friends group organized this summer. It meets Mondays at 6 p.m. at Lost Valley.
Owners said Wednesday they intend to form a board of directors as part of plans to turn the ski resort around.
“What that place needs is passion and new life and wind in its sails … If they can’t turn it into something like it used to be, then turn it over to someone or a group that wants to see it succeed and flourish like I know it can.” Adam Laperle
Lincoln Hayes: “There have been several (potentially interested buyers). The debt service scares them away.”
Hayes said he’s interested in eventually creating a 501(c)(3) nonprofit to own and operate Lost Valley, which that isn’t likely until the ski resort’s books are back in the black.
“OK, first off the food. Now it is average food, not saying it should be great, but AVERAGE food needs to be sold at an AVERAGE price.” Evan Mancini, Auburn
King: “When you compare to Sunday River and places like that, they are a lot lower. It’s good feedback.”
Hayes: “That’s one of the things we do need to correct — regardless of the price of the items, we don’t know how to manage it. Now, you come up, you order what you want. Sunday River or Shawnee has a system, you’ve got your soups and your chowders on this wall, self-serve. You want it, you grab it and go. That’s been one of our challenges. That’s one of the things that is going to have to change.”
“One of the last things I believe LV needs to work on is marketing and cosmetics. I think if the owners put their best foot forward in keeping the parking lot cleaned, just bumping up their standards, they will see a big turn around. No one wants to drive in the parking lot and worry about bottoming out. I also think that having someone market the mountain better, as not only a place for freestyle skiers but a genuine race hill and fun place to ski, they can pull it together.” Evan Mancini
Hayes: “We have put a lot of money into the place, I’ve got a whole list. The unfortunate thing is, what we’ve done is not that beautification. It does not show. What people don’t see … we’ve rebuilt all four terminals on the lifts, that’s $30,000 each. No shiny paint, that’s just all the internals.”
King: “There’s no budget for that right now but we’d certainly love to.”
Hayes said unsuccessful efforts have been made to find someone to market the mountain, but that they’re actively trying to find someone again.
Hayes: “It’s underutilized. That building sits idle five days a week. We’re basically open Christmas, if we’re lucky, to February vacation, then everybody’s learned what they need to learn and they’ve gone off to the big hills in March. We have to figure out a way to find somebody that can market for us to fill that building a few days a week during the other 9.5 months, 10 months.”
Suggestions and responses were edited for length.