AUBURN — Despite this past winter that seemed like it only just ended, a co-owner of Lost Valley, the only Alpine ski hill in the Twin Cities, said that without help the resort would be unable to open for another season of skiing and snowboarding.

“We’re looking for ideas,” said Lincoln Hayes, a co-owner of the resort. He said banquets and other off-ski-season functions at the resort’s base lodge would continue.

Hayes said he and his business partners took ownership of the resort about 10 years ago, hoping the Lewiston-Auburn market was big enough to sustain the community ski hill or that other investors would join in their efforts to keep operations viable. But Hayes said the resort has never been able to break even, let alone turn a profit and each year has ended in the red by about $200,000.

He said he and his business partner, Connie King, were simply unable to put any more money into the resort and were no longer able to even finance against the sprawling 200-acre property, which includes two chairlifts, the base lodge and several small outbuildings and garages.

Attempts to reach King for comment Monday were unsuccessful.

Hayes said the original hope was to bring the ski area’s day-ticket sales up to the volume they experienced in the 1970s and 1980s but they were unable to do so.

“Revenue has not exceeded expenses any of those 10 years,” Hayes said. “And I’ve gotten to the point where I shouldn’t dump any more in. Caring is sharing and that’s kind of the message, I mean we don’t want to close this place, there are just too many memories, too many alumni.”

Hayes said the primary infrastructure at the resort, its chairlifts and snowmaking system, have been steadily maintained and remain in relatively good shape, but the ongoing costs associated with keeping the resort in shape for the public are part of the “hidden costs” of running a ski operation.

The resort, has not only long been the “home hill” for Auburn’s Edward Little High School ski team, but has also produced a variety of high-profile skiers who either raced in the World Cup or became Olympic athletes. They include Julie Parisien and her siblings Rob and Anne-Lise, who lived less than a mile from the ski hill.

Bates College, Hebron Academy and dozens of nearby public high schools also use the resort’s terrain for ski team practices and meets.

Opened in 1961, the resort also features Maine’s oldest running double chairlift and was put on the map for snowmaking and grooming inventions created there by former owner and apple orchard operator Otto Wallingford.

With its modest vertical gain of just over 240 feet, Lost Valley has long been known as a “safe place” for families and children learning to ski, Hayes said.

Its base lodge has served as the “second living room” for generations of Lewiston-Auburn skiers and riders. It is also host to weekly Special Olympics training during the winter season and is home to Central Maine Adaptive Sports, a downhill skiing program for those with developmental disabilities.

The resort is in an area zoned for recreation and agriculture, which prohibits developing housing or condominiums near the ski slopes. Facilities for short-term lodging related to recreation would be possible, according to Hayes.

The resort is bordered by apple orchards and forest and includes a spring-fed brook. It is also connected to a network of cross-country ski trails maintained by the Auburn Nordic Association, a local cross-country skiing nonprofit.

Joined by the president of Auburn Ski Association, Eric Howes on Monday, Hayes said the financial situation had reached a dire point and he was open to any and all ideas, including sale of the resort, if necessary, to keep it going.

The resort and lead members of the ski association have begun talks with Auburn city officials as they continue to brainstorm for possible financial solutions, Howes said.

The 50-year-old ski association has been the primary force behind ski racing programs and competitions at the ski hill and has raised revenue to provide for ski racing equipment such as safety netting, gates and timing devices. The association also raises funds to provide a low-cost learn-to-ski program for Auburn elementary students.

“Really what we are trying to do is to start a dialogue with city officials, local business leaders to get the word out, that in order for the Lost Valley ski area to open this winter, either a private or nonprofit solution needs to be found that increases the revenues to make the ski area financially viable,” Howes said.

Facilities for short-term lodging related to recreation would be possible, according to Hayes.

Hayes said he hopes people will contact him with ideas or suggestions.

“More minds are better than my mind,” Hayes said. “The more minds you might have looking at it, maybe you can come up with some creative way to keep it going.”

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