CAMDEN, Maine — For ski resorts, the color black generally refers to the most difficult trails. But at the Camden Snow Bowl this year, the word “black” refers to how the area did financially, and it’s a subject that the Select Board was happy to hear about at Tuesday night’s regular meeting.
“We have more season pass holders than we have had in measurable history,” said Jeff Kuller, the general manager of the town-owned ski resort and the director of town parks and recreation. “I think people are happy with the product at the Snow Bowl.”
This year, the resort generated a profit of $77,427, only the second time in six years it posted positive numbers. All the snow certainly helped, Kuller said, but so did a number of activities intended to generate interest and skiers to the slopes of Ragged Mountain, including Knox County’s fourth-grade Learn-to-Ski program, the Friday Night Racing Program and nine race and contest days held at the mountain.
“It’s just a terrific success and we have good management to thank as well,” said board member Anita Brosius-Scott.
Kuller requested permission to put aside $45,000 into a so-called rainy-winter fund and to spend the rest on some special projects, including bumping up the number of people checking tickets. But not everyone thought that was the best use of the money.
“I’ve always felt that any extra money they have should go back into the General Fund,” said Select Board member John French.
Ultimately, the board voted 4-1 to allow the Snow Bowl to spend a portion of the money and save the rest, with French dissenting.
In other news, after a fairly lengthy debate on free speech, the board decided to give the go-ahead to a request from Camden Hills Regional High School’s Amnesty International club to use the Village Green on June 7 to educate about Tibet.
Town attorney William Kelley warned against possible consequences of that.
“Once you open up public space to speech and political expressions, you open up space to anyone and everyone who wants to use it as a public forum,” he said.
“Why wouldn’t we permit freedom of speech in a public space?” asked Brosius-Scott.
Some people prefer to sit in peace, said French.
But Police Chief Phil Roberts said that if the board denied the club’s request and they did it anyway, his hands would be tied.
“What can I do about it?” he asked. “I don’t think they’ve done anything illegal.”
Ultimately, the board voted 4-1 to allow the group the use of the Village Green. French was the no vote.