Camden’s Snow Bowl audit results delayed, no decision on DEP consent agreement, yet
Camden’s interim town manager, Roberta Smith, said Friday, Feb 17, that the results of the select board commissioned audit of the Snow Bowl are delayed “due to weather and workload.”
The town is contracting with R.H. Smith and Co., of Buxton, to perform the audit, and the Select Board agreed to spend up to $12,000 from its own contingency on the job.
There are two to three auditors involved in Camden’s job, and they are expected to be at the town office all next week, finishing the work. Any conclusions or reports are not anticipated before March 1, said town staff.
As for progress on the draft consent agreement that the Maine Department of Environmental Protection sent to the town’s attorney last month, following the 2015 Ragged Mountain violation notice, the DEP said Feb. 16 that no further discussions have taken place.
“Due to this week’s snowstorms, our scheduled meeting had to be postponed,” said DEP spokesman David Madore.
The violation notice (see attached PDF) was issued after the DEP approved the alteration of 7,028 acres of wet meadow and forested wetlands in order for the Snow Bowl ski trail expansion project. During the logging, trees were skidded down several pre-existing trails, severely disturbing soils, without erosion controls, the DEP said, in 2015.
Hosmer Pond and Hosmer Brook were contaminated by accumulated sediment.
How much the fine will be, and whether that amount will be mitigated by an offsite remediation project of the town, remains to be made public. Draft consent agreements are not available to the public, Madore said, while they remain under negotiation, even if one of the parties is a municipality.
In mid-January, the Camden Select Board voted unanimously to spend $12,000 from its own contingency on an audit of the Snow Bowl’s $6.8 million redevelopment project, which has been underway since 2014. The decision followed a closed-door meeting of the Select Board to address an undisclosed personnel issue. The reason, according to board members, was that they wanted a “good sense of the money trail.”
The Snow Bowl investment was to upgrade the town-owned ski facility, with a goal of expanding Camden’s outdoor economy. The redevelopment has been a project funded by a $2 million municipal bond, as well as a private $4.5 million fundraising effort on the part of the nonprofit Ragged Mountain Foundation.
The public/private partnership represented a collaborative effort by local citizens to improve their ski mountain, where a large community, from kindergarteners to the elderly, enjoy the winter season.
But project costs grew, and the bookkeeping got murky. The town has been close-lipped about the need for an audit, other than to say that its completion is expected by Feb. 15 and the numbers will then be made clear to the public.
• Camden Snow Bowl project up to $8.4 million, fundraising resumes (Feb. 3, 2015)
• Camden Snow Bowl to start making snow Jan. 5 (Jan. 2)
• Homage to Camden’s Big T (March 15, 2014)
• By wide margin, Camden voters approve Snow Bowl improvement bond (Nov. 5, 2013)
• Camden committee selects new parks and recreation director (Sept. 6, 2013)
• Camden considers $2 million Snow Bowl bond, ordinance amendments Nov. 5 (Sept. 4, 2014)
• Camden ready to put $2 million bond before voters (Aug. 21, 2013)
• Camden pursues federal money to help with Snow Bowl upgrade (July 10, 2013)
• Camden learns about refurbished chairlifts, woven grips and haul ropes (April 10, 2013)
• Last run for Jeff (Jan. 21, 2013)
• Stellar start to season at Camden Snow Bowl (Jan. 9, 2013)
• Camden’s Ragged Mountain loses a good friend (Nov. 7, 2012)
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