By Erin Post
Sugarbush officials are gearing up for the second phase of construction in the Lincoln Peak base area.
Although plans are still preliminary at this point, the Warren Development Review Board (DRB) met with Sugarbush representatives January 17 to begin discussions about a scaled-down proposal for a new guest services building in the base area as well as additional residential units.
The guest services center is to be located on the site of the current 'interim village,' situated between the recently-completed Clay Brook Lodge and beginner terrain served by the Village Double lift, said Jason Lisai, vice-president of planning and development.
The resort plans to break ground for the guest services building early this summer, in the hopes of opening it to the public by December of 2007. The residential units should be ready for occupancy by the start of the 2008-09 ski season, with construction beginning late this summer.
The guest services building is slated to house the ski school as well as ski rental and repair services. Additional residential units in the base area, up to a maximum of 39, are included in preliminary plans. The layout of these units, as well as the ownership structure, has yet to be determined, said JJ Toland, Sugarbush communications manager.
The project had received approval from the town through the permitting process for the recently completed Clay Brook Lodge. However, some modifications to the plan, including a reduced footprint for the guest services building, prompted Sugarbush officials to start a dialogue with the DRB regarding those changes.
Sugarbush representatives said they expect to go through a minor amendment process with Act 250 as well.
More detailed plans regarding the project should be coming together over the next 30 to 60 days, Lisai said this week. The cost of the new buildings has yet to be determined.
Moving into phase II of construction should allow the resort to finish up the restoration of Hotel Brook, Lisai said. The project, required by the state, is about halfway done. Sugarbush has been working with a consulting firm and Friends of the Mad River to remove culverts and restore a more "natural bottom" to the brook, creating a better habitat for aquatic and plant life.
The project also requires Sugarbush to relocate the Village lift and regrade some land near the top terminal.
The plans presented to the DRB included possible locations for additional residential buildings the resort may pursue in the future. Market feasibility studies will likely determine the size and configuration of the buildings, Lisai said, but added that Sugarbush wants the town to be aware of the possibility for additional building projects.
The goal for the resort is to help "restore the bed base to The Valley" that has been lost over the last decade or so, Toland said, as well as stay competitive with other ski resorts in the region.
Any future additional residential buildings would go through a permitting process with the town and the state.
At the January 17 meeting, some members of the DRB voiced approval for phase II preliminary plans, noting that the new layout encourages traffic to flow between the planned guest services building and the existing lodge.
"I think it's a good plan," said DRB member David Markolf. "I like the consolidation of the buildings."
Lisai spoke to the Warren DRB January 17 along with Bob Ackland, president and part owner of Sugarbush.
Sugarbush representatives plan to return to the DRB for additional meetings with more detailed plans.