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Ascutney on Verge of Clean-Up

  • Clint Agwin, of White River Junction, Vt., and his 6-year-old son, Peter, hike the slopes at Mt. Ascutney on Sunday afternoon, December 18, 2016. On Tuesday morning in the West Windsor Town Hall, the Southern Windsor County Regional Planning Commission will hold a public forum on its plans to use grant money for asbestos removal at the burned out Ascutney Base Lodge. (Valley News - John Happel) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • On Tuesday morning in the West Windsor Town Hall, the Southern Windsor County Regional Planning Commission will hold a public forum on its plans to use grant money for asbestos removal at the burned out Ascutney Base Lodge. Ascutney Outdoors, the nonprofit running the recreational efforts in the former ski area, hopes to demolish the building once the asbestos is removed. (Valley News - John Happel) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.(Valley News - John Happel) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Keith Morgan, of Brownsville, Vt., cools down after a 6-mile run through the Ascutney trails, Sunday afternoon, December 18, 2016. Morgan trains on the mountain five times a week throughout the season. On Tuesday morning in the West Windsor Town Hall, the Southern Windsor County Regional Planning Commission will hold a public forum on its plans to use grant money for asbestos removal at the burned out Ascutney Base Lodge. (Valley News - John Happel) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.



Valley News Correspondent
Monday, December 19, 2016

Brownsville — Two years after a fire destroyed the base lodge at the former Ascutney Mountain Resort, clean-up of the property is expected to begin next month.

At this morning’s West Windsor Selectboard meeting, the board will hold a public hearing on the Southern Windsor County Regional Planning Commission’s plans to remove asbestos from the gutted structure.

Tom Kennedy, executive director of SWCRPC, said the commission is providing about $30,000 to Ascutney Outdoors, the nonprofit managing the former ski area property, for asbestos removal at the lodge, which was all but destroyed in an early morning fire on Jan. 8, 2015. The resort shut down in 2010 and the lodge was not in use.

“We have to show the asbestos (removal) plan and the community relations plans to the public,” explained Kennedy about the purpose of this morning’s forum.

The board meeting is scheduled to begin at 8 a.m. in Story Memorial Hall. After the presentation, there is a 30-day period for public comment with the abatement work scheduled to begin Jan. 21. The length of time it takes to complete the asbestos removal is weather dependent, Kennedy said.

Funding for the project is through the Brownfields Reuse Program and is being made available through a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Cleanup program, Kennedy said.

Once the asbestos work is completed, Ascutney Outdoors will begin demolition.

Ascutney Outdoors member Glenn Seward, who was on the Selectboard during the long process that led to the town acquiring the resort property in 2015, said the nonprofit has the roughly $145,000 needed to demolish the lodge.

Seward said Saturday that Ascutney Outdoors completed purchase of the property, which includes about 2.3 acres, from the resort’s former owner, Dan Purjes, the day before.

The lodge and surrounding property was not included when the town, with the assistance from the Trust for Public Land, bought about 470 acres of former ski resort land. The purchase came with a conservation easement and combined with the abutting town forest, created about 1,600 acres for recreational use including skiing, hiking and mountain biking.

Seward said Ascutney Outdoors is in the process of developing some conceptual plans for the lodge property to build a center for the organization’s activities.

“It would be a multipurpose structure to service all of our needs,” Seward said. “We would also like to use it for arts and music programs.”

Seward also addressed the status of an Act 250 permit that Ascutney Outdoors failed to obtain before it began doing work to improve the ski area, which has a small rope tow.

This summer, the organization moved a warming hut and put up lights for the ski tow without the proper permits, which it is now trying to obtain. Seward said they have held meetings with the District 2 Environmental Commission and it is his understanding they are close to reaching a conclusion.

“I think they have worked out the differences,” he said.

After the town bought the property in December 2015, Ascutney Outdoors signed a lease agreement with the town for the 1,600 acres

The lease agreement states that any projects undertaken “shall be subject to and consistent with the easement, the Community Forest Management Plan and Act 250 permitting.”

Other provisions of the lease agreement include Ascutney Outdoors being responsible for promoting recreational activities in the easement area, constructing and maintaining facilities, and raising money needed to sustain these activities with no expectation of financial assistance from the town.

Demolition of the lodge is being paid for with donations from John and Sue Casella of Casella Waste, Orange Lake, which owns the hotel on the mountain, Natalie Starr and Ted Siegler with DSM Environmental in Windsor, Seward and his wife Shelley and Steve and Ashley Crihfield.

Patrick O’Grady can be reached at pogclmt@gmail.com.