Greenville Locals Not Optimistic About Squaw Ski Area
December 26, 2007 -
BIG SQUAW MOUNTAIN -- In its heyday, the Squaw Mountain Resort and Ski area was a vital part of the Moosehead Lake region economy. In the mid-1980s, more than $120,000 a year was spent on advertising for the then fourseason resort, according to local officials. As a result, parking lots and rooms at the resort and elsewhere in the region were often full. In addition to winter traffic, tourists would flock to the mountain during the summer and fall for views of Moosehead Lake from the chairlift and for the meals, concerts and dances held at the lodge.
In recent years the mountain resort has only heen in operation sporadically, leading many to wonder about its status this ski season. On Wednesday morning, callers to the resort got a recording that advised that no one was.available to take their call and they should leave their name and telephone numbers. But by Wednesday evening the message had changed.
The recording reported workers were out packing the trails on the lower mountain and two trails would be open soon. Until then, the mountain was not open.
Although owner James Confalone of Florida has submitted a plan to the Land Use Regulation Commission to expand his operation on the mountain, local people are not very optimistic it will happen. Reached by telephone Wednesday, Confalone had no comment on the status of the resort.
The uncertainty surrounding the operation of the ski resort has left local officials scratching their heads, according to Greenville Town Manager John Simko.
"There is no reason to believe that it will be any different this year," Simko said Wednesday. He said numerotis people stop into the town office and inquire about the ski resort. "We simply don't know."
The economy in Greenville would be much more robust if the ski resort was in full operation, according to Simko. That comment was echoed by Bob Hamer, executive director of the Moosehead Lake Region Chamber of Commerce. He said some of his members now close their businesses in the winter, including the only large motel on the lake.
The Chamber also fields multiple calls requesting information about the ski facility. More than 30 calls were received over the past week, according to Hamer. People are making their plans for January and February.
"It's embarrassing to tell people we don't know," Hamer said Wednesday. "We've asked for two months for an official statement [from Confalone], but we have not received one," Hamer said of this winter's operation. "It's unfortunate for the area that we don't have the cooperation from the mountain."
The Chamber and local businesses paid Confalone $1,000 a day last year to keep the mountain open for several free ski days, Hamer said. They did that he said, believing the mountain would be open for the rest of the winter and "unfortunately that was not the case."
Betsy Rockwell, who along with her husband Rocky coach the Greenville School ski team said it was her understanding the ski resort will be open on weekends and holidays after Christmas. She said Wednesday the lower mountain had been groomed. Rockwell said the ski team has been practicing at the mountain by hiking up on the lower Kennebec Trail and skiing down. Ski meets are scheduled in January and February, and a race camp is planned Dec. 27-29, she said.
Hamer said Confalone has mentioned repeatedly he planned to improve the mountain and the latest plan presented to the state's Land Use Regulation Commission is no exception.
"We'd love to see him do it," Hamer said.
The effect of the resort being open would be "fantastic," the Chamber official said.
SOURCE: BANGOR DAILY NEWS
Lakes: Moosehead Lake
Regions: Moosehead, Bangor
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