August 17, 2013

Deirdre Fleming: Bigrock loses funding but gains community support

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"The other $120,000 will be spearhead by a group that has not yet come forward. They are committed to put some money into the pot. It's an exciting thing. These guys are looking long-term," Getman said.

Shepard is not surprised. But he believes the community cavalry makes sense. It's what existed in the heyday of New England skiing.

"The thing with smaller communities, they need to fully engage the community. And when you think back to the 50s, and 60s, and 70s, that is exactly what it was like," he said.

It could be the model that saves small downhill ski areas today: A nonprofit or company infuses capital for needed upgrades, and the community takes ownership, raises money, recruits volunteers and runs the hill.

Greg Sweetser, executive director at Ski Maine, said that model is viable in a state like ours.

"For Black Mountain, things are working very well. Now that it has all the improvements, the locals can run with it. The same with Bigrock. All the major improvements are out of the way. They can really focus on building the business," Sweetser said.

Such tactics to revitalize, reinvent and run ski areas are just part and parcel of the big ski love across Maine.

From Titcomb Mountain in Farmington to the town-owned Camden Snow Bowl on the coast, community-run or community-owned ski areas have proven successful, Sweetser said.

"Snow is important, and programs, but it has to have the community behind it. And it's really happening at community areas in Maine," Sweetser said.

Deirdre Fleming can be contacted at 791-6452 or at:

dfleming@pressherald.com

Twitter: Flemingpph

 

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