Camden Snow Bowl supporters near fundraising goal for facility overhaul

Posted July 02, 2013, at 10:36 p.m.

CAMDEN, Maine — Supporters of a major overhaul of the town’s winter recreation complex that includes the Camden Snow Bowl say they are nearing the $4 million mark in raising private funds for the project.

The Ragged Mountain Redevelopment Committee has been working for nearly five years to raise $4.5 million from private parties with the expectation that residents then will be asked to borrow $2 million to cover the projected $6.5 million price tag.

“We can see the top of the mountain,” supporter George Mueller told the Camden Select Board at its Tuesday night meeting about the fundraising effort.

The redevelopment plan calls for construction of a new, larger ski lodge, new ski lifts and other work. There is still a lot of work to do, Mueller said, but he is hopeful the board will schedule a November vote for the $2 million bond referendum.

In November 2008, Camden voters approved a nonbinding referendum 2,037 to 1,273 to borrow $2 million if supporters could raise $4.5 million in private money.

The Select Board voted unanimously Monday night to help the private fundraising by approving the submission of an application to the Northern Border Regional Commission for $200,000. Camden Economic and Community Development Director Brian Hodges said the town should find out about whether it received the grant by the first week of October. The grants are to benefit programs that promote tourism and conservation.

The referendum should be held in November, said Select Board member James Heard. He said that the Snow Bowl has a positive ripple effect throughout the midcoast.

Board member Leonard Lookner agreed.

“It does benefit the entire midcoast, socially, environmentally and economically,” Lookner said.

If a referendum is held and voters approve the bond referendum, redevelopment work would begin in 2014, Mueller said.

At the Tuesday night meeting, the board also approved the 2013-2014 budget for the Snow Bowl. The budget was approved at $673,000, down from $$689,000 for 2012-2013.

Beth Ward, acting general manager for the Camden Parks and Recreation Department, said she developed a conservative budget for the upcoming year.