RANGELEY, Maine — The owners of Saddleback Mountain announced this summer they would have to close unless they raised $3 million to upgrade a lift, but that didn’t happen and now the resort’s future is unclear.
Saddleback is the third largest ski area in Maine, but they’re not making any snow on the mountain. The general manager said he’s still in negotiations to try and find a buyer for Saddleback. But for right now, its future remains uncertain.
Saddleback owners said for the past five winters, they’ve averaged nearly 100,000 skiers on their trails. But after failing to secure $3 million in financing to replace an aging chair lift, they decided to sell.
Without a buyer heading into December, business owners in nearby Rangeley are worried. Sandy McDavitt bought the Alpine Shop in June. She said in the winter skiers are her best customers. “I’ve had to scale down on staff, and I’ll probably be looking at closing two days during the week. For the first time in 56 years the store will be closing a couple days of the week,” McDavitt said.
Condos at Saddleback and the surrounding area are not being rented out either. Connie Russell owns a vacation rental agency. She said not one skier has booked yet. “I’m a little concerned. Nothing for February vacation week, which is mostly skiers, and I’m second biggest agency in town. So I’m starting to worry,” Russell said.
Condo owners at Saddleback are trying to stay positive, but it’s not easy.
“We’re all skiers, and we come here. We love the place. As you can see, the view is spectacular,” Bill Richards, Saddleback condo owner, said.
Saddleback general manager Chris Farmer said they’re only negotiating with people who want to buy Saddleback and open it for the season, but as far as when that might happen, he’s not saying.
Several people have bought season passes for Saddleback. Farmer said they are not issuing refunds yet, but if Saddleback does not open, they will refund that money.