CAMDEN, Maine — The spring snow that was falling atop Ragged Mountain on Friday morning may have been a harbinger for the future of the Camden Snow Bowl.
Members of the Camden Planning Board toured the mountaintop and some of the trails in preparation for next week’s public hearing and possible vote for a proposed major upgrade to the recreation complex. Members gathered at the ski resort’s lodge and then rode on the backs of snowmobiles or inside a pair of SnowCats to reach the summit of the 1,300-foot mountain.
Already, a new trail and improvements to four trails have begun with trees being cut and the logs sent to paper mills and lumber yards. The entire recreation area is temporarily closed for public use while the logging operation continues.
Ultimately, there will be new ski lifts, a new trail, an expanded beginner ski area, new snowmaking equipment, added and improved parking, and a new larger lodge. The new lodge will rise two stories and 8,400-square-feet. Construction of the lodge is expected to begin in the spring of 2015.
Camden voters gave overwhelming approval (1,124-239) in November to borrow up to $2 million to match $4.5 million raised privately for the major upgrade. The project has been more than seven years in the making. In November 2008, Camden voters approved a non-binding referendum for the borrowing.
Camden Planning Board Chairman Lowrie Sargent said the formal public hearing for the trail and associated work will be held Thursday. He said the board could vote on the project at that meeting.
A request to approve the lodge part of the project will likely come before the board in the fall.
The towers for the lifts are being stored offsite. Chairs and smaller equipment are at the town’s wastewater plant.
The plan is for the new trails, snowmaking upgrade and all but the lodge and parking to be done and ready for skiers once the snow begins to fall next season.