Friends of Bigrock want to save Mars Hill ski facility

Posted Aug. 13, 2013, at 6:05 p.m.

MARS HILL, Maine — In the wake of Maine Winter Sports Center’s announcement last week that it was ending its relationship with Bigrock Mountain, community members are joining forces to raise the necessary funds to keep the alpine ski facility operational.

“Bigrock has been a way of life and part of the culture of northern Maine and New Brunswick,” a release emailed to media outlets Tuesday by Bill Getman, Bigrock general manager, stated. “No surprise, shortly after the announcement, people started to organize to keep Bigrock open.”

The Friends of Bigrock have already begun organizing fundraising efforts with a goal to raise $150,000 by mid-September which would allow the facility to open this coming season.

The group is holding an organizational meeting at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday in the main lodge at Bigrock Mountain to solicit ideas and support.

“Everybody and anyone is encouraged to attend and participate with the goal of saving this regional jewel,” Getman said in the release.

Maine Winter Sports announced on Aug. 6 it was ending its 13-year relationship with Bigrock. Earlier this summer, the organization also announced it was stepping away from Black Mountain in Rumford after 10-years of ownership.

“When we bought Bigrock Mountain in 2000 with funding from the Libra Foundation, the intent was to give the mountain a meaningful opportunity at being sustainable for the long term,” Andy Shepard, president and CEO of Maine Winter Sports, said in the Aug. 6 release. “At that time we envisioned turning the mountain over to a nonprofit, community-based ownership [and] that time has now come.”

Rumford area community members have already raised the necessary funds to take over operations of Black Mountain, Shepard said last week.

“We want to do the same thing [with Bigrock] as we did with Black Mountain,” Shepard said. “Black Mountain has become a success story [and] that community stepped up in the most profound way to keep it open.”

Bigrock Mountain, at 980 feet, is the tallest ski area in Northern Maine and the Canadian Maritimes. The Maine Winter Sports Center purchased the site in 1999, and since that time, the Libra Foundation has invested over $6 million in snowmaking and other improvements.

“Truly, closing Bigrock Mountain is not an option,” Travis Kearney, a Bigrock board member said in Tuesday’s release. “It is an area icon, a way of life, and skiing makes winter enjoyable.”

Kearney believes the Aroostook County community will step up much the way fans of skiing in Rumford have.

“There [are] a lot of dedicated folks committed to keep Bigrock operational and sustainable,” he said “We hope, ask and need everyone in the area with fond memories of skiing at Bigrock to join our journey.”

Donations may be made at www.gofundme.com/save-BigrockMountain.

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