UPDATE: Saddleback supporters lay out plans to revive ski area

A group that this summer quietly worked on plans to form a nonprofit to buy and run Saddleback Mountain ski area near Rangeley has called a news conference for Thursday with something to announce — and potentially celebrate — but no one outside that group knows what it is and on Tuesday, the group wasn’t talking.

“We’ve heard, unfortunately, 31 other times there was going to be a press conference and it was going to be good, so we’re very skeptical,” said Rangeley Town Manager Tim Pellerin, who said he, too, was in the dark. “We want it to open; we want it to be successful. We want it to be good for everybody involved.”

Saddleback, the third-largest ski mountain in Maine, missed last winter entirely after multiple attempts to secure money for a new, faster lift, or a new buyer, failed. Management said several times last winter that promising news might be imminent.

On Tuesday, a message posted on the Facebook page “A Family Skiing in Maine” by Peter Stein, described as “lead organizer of the Saddleback Mountain Foundation,” read:

“Dear fellow Saddlebackers,

I am incredibly excited to announce that our initiative will be holding a press conference this Thursday at 11 AM at The Trust for Public Land, 30 Danforth Street, Portland. Please come if you can, wear something Saddleback, and spread the word. Skillfully, Peter.”

A follow-up comment by “A Family Skiing in Maine” added: “there is an agreement in place and a definitive path forward (sic) more details on Thursday.”

Stein, who lives in New Hampshire, didn’t return a message for comment, nor did the foundation’s spokeswoman. 

Saddleback Mountain General Manager Chris Farmer reached Tuesday said he had “no comment on that.”

The resort, which had employed up to 300 people in the winter, was bought in 2003 by the Berry family, who poured $40 million into upgrades such as new lifts, the base lodge, condominiums and trails. 

It’s been on the market since 2012.

After more than a year of uncertainty, something may finally be on tap for Saddleback.

“I made a few phone calls seeing if I could sniff around and find anything out, and no one’s really talking,” Pellerin said. “They’re saying, ‘Come to the press conference.’ It could be a couple things. It could be that somebody’s made an offer on the mountain, but an offer is a long way from purchasing. And it could be that someone has purchased the mountain, but purchasing the mountain is a long way from opening the mountain. All different things.”

The only certainty on Tuesday: It was snowing at Saddleback and had been for two days.

“We are (curious). I guess we have to wait until Thursday,” said Gail Spaulding, office manager at the Rangeley Lakes Chamber of Commerce. 

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