Redevelopment Project Update, August 15, 2014
Hello from everyone here at the Snow Bowl. We are all busy with the big construction projects on the hill, but also preparing for opening day! We’re actively selling early bird season passes, working on marketing the “new” Snow Bowl, and wondering where the summer went. I hope everyone is enjoying the late summer weather. I want to share a few details on the progress of the redevelopment.
The trail work is going great. The major tree-removal work to make room for expanded trails and the new lifts is finished. The last few acres were done with a mulcher (known as the brontosaurus) that chips the trees in place, down to below grade, and leaves a smooth, fertile mix of chips topsoil and mineral soil. Using that equipment was an additional cost, but it was much more environmentally sound from an erosion control perspective than traditional logging and skidding trees down the hill.
The trail contractor blasted ledge at 3 sites near the top. The Tower 13 area was blasted again (the 1st time was in 1966) to reduce the grade of the road to allow construction vehicles access and create a placement for a new lift tower. The Tower 15 area was blasted to remove ledge that would interfere with snowmaking and grooming. The Tower 16 area will be blasted to create a level area for installation of the new chairlift return. The total area of all the blast sites is less than ¼ acre. The blasting provided a double benefit of providing the majority of material for the road that otherwise would have to be purchased and trucked in.
The top 1000 feet of Northeaster and Clipper are complete, including a new high race-start. The head wall and lower sections of Mussel and the bottom of Northeaster have also been dramatically improved.
We now have a permanent access road up the lift line. Construction took 3 weeks to complete. The road will make it much easier for utility trucks and vehicles to service the lifts and do maintenance work. It will also control access to the cell towers at the top, which will reduce damage to the hill.
All of the 4 miles of new snowmaking pipe has arrived and is being welded at a terrific rate, with several thousand feet done. The long strings are being winched into place on Northeaster now.
Fabrication and installation of the chairlifts is going smoothly. The first towers are fabricated and assembled and the first footings have been poured. The base terminal towers for the drive have been installed. Like most lift installations, we expect this project to come down to the wire. The original Big T footings were poured in September and October and it wasn't complete until mid January. The double chair also didn’t become operational until January. We’re still on track to have all 3 new lifts up and running by Christmas.
Opening Day: Mark your calendars for opening day on December 20!
Great news! One of the goals of the redevelopment project is to have an improved area for beginner skiers to enhance their experience. We just received a substantial new gift specifically to fund a Wonder Carpet conveyor lift for the beginner area. This will replace the handle tow and dramatically improve our ability to attract and teach new skiers. Sincere thanks to this friend of the Snow Bowl.
Erosion control and the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP):
In June storm water runoff carried silt into Hosmer Pond. This was caused by a combination of very heavy rain, loggers who exposed areas of open soil without using appropriate erosion control measures, and topsoil which accumulated in the parking lot due to the logging operations. Since that incident, we have had on-going supervision by an engineer and soil scientist from Gartley & Dorsky, and spent more than $50,000 on erosion control measures.
We have regular site visits by the DEP staff to monitor our work. Unfortunately, once the conditions that cause erosion have been created, it takes time to reestablish the ground cover that is the frontline of erosion control. It is especially challenging to do this while continuing a construction project on a narrow timeline. With the great work of our Parks& Rec/Snow Bowl employees, Farley and Sons, who mobilized dozens of crew members quickly to install erosion control measures, and the expertise of Royal Trail Works (our trail contractor), we have made good headway stabilizing the mountain. And the new grass is growing. Although we received more than 2 inches of rain the night of the 13-14th, we had no significant erosion.
The project is not in danger of being shut down by the DEP
Water quality in Hosmer Pond has not been significantly affected. Recent bacteria and turbidity tests confirm this.
The Pond has always received silt from many locations and activities, ever since farming and recreation have existed upstream.
The Brook is often cloudy and occasionally brown in spring and after heavy rain.
July was the 3rd wettest on record with more than double the average rainfall
The silt from the hillside doesn't carry fertilizers or large amounts of nutrients that cause algae blooms. The Pond water changes completely 7-8 times per year, which also helps keep the water clear. Compared to other ponds in the area this is a very high flow-through rate.
By all reports, it has been a good year for fishing.
The redevelopment of the trail system will significantly improve erosion control. All new terrain, and much of the existing, has/will have many more water bars, sedimentation traps, and culverts to manage runoff
As part of the construction of the new lodge, we are making a major investment in storm water management infrastructure improvements to control the runoff and erosion from the parking lot that has been ongoing since the lot was built- beyond what regulations require. This will improve the water quality of Hosmer Pond more than anything else we can do.
Our trail contractor has an enormous amount of experience creating ski trails on steep terrain. He has a reputation for bringing state-of-the-art techniques to trail construction. The DEP has asked for his help in rewriting their best management practices.
The DEP has not yet issued a notice of violation. Whether this happens and whether the town is fined is impossible to know at this point.
Parking Lot and Access:
We have closed the parking lot and entire ski area (with the exception of 22 Tacks trail) to all public access. There is a wide variety of construction vehicles and projects in many locations and it is of great concern to our employees and contractors when people unexpectedly appear at worksites. Work is often taking place from dawn until dark and on weekends. Please help us keep everyone safe and productive and stay outside the gate. The best views of the project are from Bald Mountain. If you “like” our Facebook page, you can see regular updates and follow the construction process.
For alternative areas for hiking and dog-walking, please see the Parks and Rec Department map and guide, click here
Thanks for your understanding.
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