DALLAS PLANTATION — The general manager of the Saddleback ski area said Friday the resort would extend by a few days its self-imposed deadline for securing $3 million in financing for a new chairlift.

The resort announced in July it would have to close for the coming 2015-16 ski season if it was unable to replace its Rangeley double chairlift which, although having been refurbished in the mid 2000s, is going on 51 years old.

Chris Farmer, Saddleback’s general manager and real estate agent, said the ski hill was essentially in a holding pattern.

“We are still working on it,” Farmer said at about 4 p.m. Friday.

On July 20, Saddleback co-owner and spokesman Mark Berry announced the mountain would cease winter operations if it could not secure $3 million in financing needed to buy a four-person chairlift to replace the aging 4,717-foot double chairlift that currently services much of the ski hill’s intermediate terrain and provides access to the resort’s upper chairlift, the Kennebago Quad.

In a news release Friday, Berry said that over the two weeks since the announcement that the ski hill was facing closure, his family and mountain managers have been “working every possible angle to secure the financing needed to build the lift and to develop a long-term plan that will safeguard the winter operations for the future.”


Berry said he and the other owners recognize the ski hill’s important role in the region’s economy.

“The economic impact on our staff and the community is not lost on us,” Berry said. “We’ve worked very hard and had several meetings with financial institutions and potential buyers. While I am not able to announce a decision today, I believe we will have a yes or a no answer by mid next week — and that’s progress from where we were two weeks ago. A final decision is needed in the next few business days to ensure the lift can be purchased and installed in time.”

Berry said public support for the iconic ski hill, which has recently touted its solitude with a marketing slogan, “Take the trail less skied. Break away from the crowd,” has been strong.

“We are humbled and grateful for the amazing show of support for this beautiful Rangeley mountain resort,” Berry said. “Our family and our staff have invested our heart and soul into providing Maine families with a safe, friendly affordable ski area that they can call their own and it remains our goal to ensure its long-term future.”

He said the family business partners have long held the goal of replacing the antiquated double chair with a four-passenger chairlift.

The resort employs up to 300 people in the winter and averages 80,000 to 100,000 skier visits per year.

Since buying the resort in 2003, the Berry family has spent more than $40 million on improvements, according to published reports. They put the resort, most of its 121 condominiums and 400 acres on the market in 2012 for $14 million.

It’s currently for sale for $9.5 million with 2,070 acres.


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