CAMDEN, Maine — The conference room at the town office erupted in applause Tuesday night as the Select Board voted unanimously to hold a Nov. 5 referendum seeking voter approval to borrow $2 million for improvements to the Snow Bowl.
The $2 million would be the final, critical piece of financing for the project, which has been seven years in the making, said Rick Knowlton, co-chairman of the Ragged Mountain Redevelopment Committee.
If approved by voters, the $2 million would match $4.5 million in private money that has been raised and pledged.
“This project is wonderfully important for the future of the Snow Bowl and the community,” resident Marty Rogers said.
Knowlton said $4.1 million of the private money has been raised or pledged and all $4.5 million would be in place when the first shovel is turned. Construction is planned to begin in 2014.
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 cost to the property taxpayers if the bond is approved is an average of $110,000 in annual loan repayments over the next 30 years, Knowlton said. This amounts to about $9 per year for someone owning a home assessed at $300,000.
The redevelopment of the Snow Bowl calls for new ski lifts, an expanded beginner area, added and improved parking, new snowmaking equipment and a new, larger lodge. The latest estimate on the cost of the proposed two-story, 8,400-square-foot lodge is nearly $2.2 million. The new lodge would replace the existing lodge, which is slightly more than 4,000 square feet.
The new and upgraded ski lifts are projected to cost $1.9 million. Snowmaking is projected to cost nearly $1 million.
The lodge is scheduled to be the final part of the construction project, tentatively set to be built in 2015.
The $2 million being requested from taxpayers over the next 30 years is nearly the same as the $1.9 million spent by the town over the past 30 years since the Camden Outing Club turned the Snow Bowl over to the town, Knowlton said.
The improvements will stabilize revenues generated by the recreation facility, he said. The Snow Bowl has seen its revenue fluctuate sharply because of weather and limits to the snowmaking equipment.