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  • Bangor Daily News

    Developer revives plans for a ski resort in Greenville

    By Valerie Royzman,

    30 days ago
    https://img.particlenews.com/image.php?url=3EspnS_0tIOmME400

    A Maine developer is reviving his plans to redevelop a partially defunct ski resort in Piscataquis County.

    Perry Williams spent several years trying to create a year-round ski resort in Big Moose Township, but he and partners halted their $126.3 million plans in November 2022 after failing to come to terms with the property owner.

    Williams said this week he is again working with James Confalone, the property owner, to buy the ski area and redevelop it using a state permit approved in September 2022. He and his partners at Big Lake Development Co. want to “go with the exact same package as we had before,” though it would be “phased in over time,” he told Piscataquis County commissioners on Tuesday.

    Williams’ previous plans included a detachable chairlift to the top of the mountain, a base lodge that would function as a conference center, a 63-room hotel, taphouse and restaurant, a zip-line tour ride and more, he said during a June 2022 public hearing in Greenville.

    “We took a step back for a while, but we never really gave up on it,” he said Tuesday. “We just kept looking for the right funding package. When we found that, we put it under contract. We’re working through the final issues.”

    Williams said Wednesday he is not ready to comment further on the project, but he will have more details to share once the property sale closes.

    When he hit pause on the proposed project in late 2022, some community members were disappointed and surprised by the news because they hoped it would bring jobs and a much-needed economic boost to one of Maine’s poorest counties. Others were skeptical from the start after the demise of Plum Creek, an even larger-scale residential development proposed in 2005.

    Confalone has owned the resort since 1995 and closed it in 2010 after it fell into disrepair. Friends of the Mountain has operated the lower portion of the mountain since 2012 and recently completed major improvements to the area.

    Williams hopes to begin work this summer on the snowmaking system, which was damaged during a devastating wind storm in January. He also wants to tear down old structures on the property that have asbestos, including the hotel, using funds from the Piscataquis County Economic Development Council’s EPA Brownfields revolving loan fund .

    Because there is contamination on the property and Williams was not responsible for it, he qualifies for the fund, which has $1.6 million available to businesses, Executive Director Angela Arno said. Williams is still getting quotes for abatement and demolition, so it’s not yet clear how much funding is needed for the work, Arno said.

    The lower portion of the mountain will operate this winter, similar to how it was run by the Friends group, Williams told commissioners. If he orders a new chairlift this summer, installation could begin about a year from now and take from four to six months.

    Having a permit in place is “a huge time saver for him [Williams] and the project as a whole,” Arno said Wednesday. She believes in the project because it has the potential to bring traffic to businesses that would sustain them year-round. New residents would enroll their children in the school and use the health care system, she said.

    “From an economic standpoint, I think about what 100 more skiers on the mountain would mean to the community every weekend,” she said. “I don’t think it will be overwhelming. I think it’s going to be a boost.”

    A confluence of events — including skyrocketing material costs , a shifting investment climate, challenges from a local residents group and public hearing delays — led the resort team to step away from the project in November 2022, regional development officials said at the time.

    Confalone said that month the project crumbled because Williams’ lender abandoned him, which caused him to back out of the property sale.

    As Williams revives the project, he said he will work with Friends of the Mountain to transition operations. The group has equipment and “people who want to stay on,” he said.

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