Video: John Christie shares his Camden Snow Bowl memories

Snow Bowl progress report to Camden Select Board continues to be positive

Wed, 12/03/2014 - 9:30pm

    CAMDEN — Following completion of the installation of the towers for the double and triple chairlifts at the Snow Bowl Tuesday morning, the Camden Select Board Tuesday night learned that the final cost of that work was $64,250 and the next step is to assemble both sets of chairs and haul rope onto them.

    "They have a unique way of working," said Snow Bowl General Manager Landon Fake. "When the work was done they gave me a handwritten invoice, which I gave to Beth and she ran it to the town office while they waited. As soon as she got back with the check, they took off."

    Fake told the Select Board that they had "an exciting few days" at the Snow Bowl Monday and Tuesday, with helicopter on site flying the chairlift towers and some other equipment up the face of Ragged Mountain. The helicopter was contracted from CHI Aviation of Howell, Mich.

    He said that Snow Bowl staff spent a lot of time prior to the helicopter's arrival getting ready, including pouring the last of the tower footings the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. He added that some staff worked on Thanksgiving Day to complete final preparations for this week's work.

    They had hoped to finish the tower installation work in one day, but a late start meant they ran into a lack of light at the end of the day, and had to finish up Tuesday morning. With an early start, the work was done by 9:45 a.m. and all the helicopter crew had left to do was wait to be paid.

    "It ended up costing $2,500 per tower [to use the helicopter] and we would have spent at least that to do it with a crane ourselves," said Fake. And with the helicopter, the work went quicker.

    Before the helicopter began flying, Fake had Central Maine Power cut the power to the lodge, since so many power lines encircle the parking lot where the towers were to be picked up by the helicopter.

    "The power was out for longer than we expected, but we took advantage of the power being off during the work to move some primary lines around," said Fake.

    Select Board chairman Martin Cates said that there had been questions about the curing time of the footings, given that they just poured them last week and were putting heavy loads on them so quickly.

    "The footings are engineered to be strong enough at the seven-day compression test to take the load," said Fake. "They are stronger after 28 days, but at seven days they reach 70 percent of strength."

    Fake said that after they put the chairs together, and haul the rope, they put the chairs on and perform load testing. That consists of putting three boxes with bags of water to weigh 160 pounds to perform the test. And during the test, the state inspector is there to watch.

    This weekend, Fake said they will hold staff orientation. He said that public information, program information and registration day will also be held this weekend, on Sunday, Dec. 7 from 1 to 4 p.m. He said they are also busy printing season passes for those who took advantage of discounts for early purchases.

    Select Board member Leonard Lookner asked about the $500,000 deficit the $6.5 million Ragged Mountain Redevelopment project was facing the last time Landon offered an update, and whether the private group had been able to raise the money needed to cover it.

    "I know they are working on it," said Fake. "They are being quiet and apparently are not too concerned, so I take that as a good sign."

    Town Manage Pat Finnigan added that during the Ski Club's annual fundraising dinner, it was noted that last year was their biggest year with $18,000 raised.

    "This year, they raised $44,000," said Finnigan. "And a lot will go to us as they offset race program costs and it goes to scholarships as well."

    Fake said that during the fundraiser dinner, community member Ed Zanca made a $5,000 restricted donation to the fourth-grade program if it was matched.

    "And Sam Appleton immediately did that," said Fake. "But the auctioneer took advantage of the energy in the room and raised another $4,000 or $5,000."

    As for season pass sales, Fake said they will likely be $50,000 ahead of last year, this week.

    "We'll be well ahead with a final flurry of sales," said Fake. "It's good news financially and a vote of confidence, but also adds a bit of pressure on us [to perform]."

    As to whether they would open "on time," which would be Dec. 20, a date Fake has been shooting for, he remained optimistic.

    "I would expect that if we get snow making temperatures we will have something to open by Dec. 20," said Fake. "We will still be tweaking things during that time, but we'll be open."

    Related links:

    One by one, 20 chairlift towers went up at the Camden Snow Bowl (Dec. 1)

    Helicopter to help raise, place 23 chairlift towers at Camden Snow Bowl (Dec. 1)

    Report: Ragged Mountain Redevelopment Project $500,000 over budget (Oct. 8)

    Camden Planning Board approves Snow Bowl lighting plan as proposed (Oct. 6)

    Camden Snow Bowl on target for Dec. 20 opening, weather willing (Sept. 19)

    Camden to contract with South Portland firm to manage Snow Bowl lodge, base area (July 24, 2014)

    Camden Snow Bowl project remains under DEP scrutiny, making progress, more work ahead (July 11)

    Vermont trail builder takes helm with Camden Snow Bowl project, new phase gets under way (July 10)

    Camden Snow Bowl prepped for more rain, assembling working group to assist with next steps (July 2)

    Snow Bowl mountain mud runoff causes headache for neighbors, town (July 1)

    Camden Snow Bowl anticipates ending season in the black; work begins on Ragged Mountain (March 19)

    Homage to Camden’s Big T (March 15, 2014)

    By wide margin, Camden voters approve Snow Bowl improvement bond (Nov. 5, 2013)

    Camden voters consider $2 million Snow Bowl bond, three zoning amendments (Nov. 3, 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)

    Ready for packed powder? Camden Snow Bowl to make it quicker, sooner with updated snow guns (Sept. 12, 2012)

    Editorial Director Holly S. Edwards can be reached at or 706-6655.