Matthew Daigle, Staff Writer
RUMFORD — Things are continuing to look up for the Black Mountain Ski Resort.
Roger Arsenault, president of the Black Mountain Ski Resort’s board of directors, met with Andy Shepard, president and CEO of Maine Winter Sports Center, Tuesday afternoon to take the final steps in transferring ownership of the Rumford ski hill to its board of directors.
Though ownership of the Black Mountain Ski Resort was officially announced during a news conference on July 19, Arsenault and Shepard met again Tuesday to sign revised bylaws that would make the transfer official.
Shepard said that before the Black Mountain board of directors gained ownership of the ski resort, the trustees of the resort were appointed by the Maine Winter Sports Center, but the revised bylaws will give the board of directors “all of the control.”
“As soon as the trustees sign the revised bylaws, Black Mountain will be wholly owned by the directors, as well as the community,” Shepard said.
“The board is made up entirely of volunteers,” Shepard said. “Black Mountainis still runs as a 501(c)(3), non-profit, charitable and benevolent company. It will not belong to the town. It will belong to the board of directors and to the skiing community.”
The road to the ownership transfer began shortly after Rumford’s annual town meeting on June 11, when voters turned down a request to raise $51,000 through taxation for the mountain.
The Maine Winter Sports Center announced it would be forced to close the alpine trails without taxpayer funding, which was intended to carry the ski area through the summer, get it ready for winter and pay wages for three employees, according to Arsenault.
Arsenault later said the fundraising efforts that began after Black Mountain was closed will “be ongoing,” and that things have been “nothing but positive” heading into the 2013-14 ski season.
“No matter where I go in the state, people say that they want to see Black Mountain up and running again,” Arsenault said, adding that the resort is planning to expand the capacity of the lodge, the parking lot and will purchase more snow guns.
“Think about it,” Shepard said with a smile, “If the resort is planning to expand its lodge and parking, that’s a pretty good sign.”
Besides Arsenault, the board of directors comprised of J.J. Bartash, secretary; Timothy Buzzard, treasurer; Jolene Lovejoy; John Aylward; Sherry Milligan; Skip MacFawn; Chummy Broomhall; Peter Everett; Mark Bolduc; and Paul Jones.
Arsenault said the goal for the ski resort is to open its doors “the weekend before Christmas.”
Black Mountain markets itself as a family-affordable ski area, with 1,380 feet of vertical drop featuring 35 trails — covering a range of 17 kilometers — and five glades. It offers night skiing and, last year after installing a new snow-making system, the sports center dropped its daily lift-ticket price to $15, which the organization credits for drawing the mountain’s greatest number of visitors ever.