Plans for ambitious ski redevelopment project near Moosehead Lake are on hold
Multi-million dollar plans to rebuild and revitalize the ski area on Big Moose Mountain near Greenville are on hold indefinitely, as the project's developers say they no longer have a clear path for acquiring the site.
The plans from Big Lake Development had called for a new hotel, base lodge and ski-lift, with the goal of restoring the mountain as a year-round resort.
But efforts to buy the mountain have fallen through, developer Perry Williams said Wednesday in a letter to the Eastern Maine Development Corporation, which had provided initial start-up loans for the project.
"The development team no longer has any clear right, title or interest in the property or a clear path to acquiring the site," the letter from Williams and Stephen Jones, president of Treadwell Franklin Infrastructure Capital, reads. "The current owner of the property is pursuing legal action against the state of Maine and will only contemplate renewed options with our team at too-costly terms."
The site's existing owner, Jim Confalone, has been locked in a legal battle with the state for years. Under his ownership, a ski lift failed and injured four people. The state sued Confalone in 2016 and wants him to pay about $4 million in damages, which he is appealing.
In talking about the project to the community, Williams had said Confalone seemed ready to sell the mountain, and he was hopeful that the developers could work with the state's attorney general to settle the lawsuit.
But the sale of the property has proven to be a major sticking point.
In an email, Williams said he is still pursuing the ski resort development in Greenville.
"Progress has slowed due to the public hearing delays and current economic conditions, but we are still moving forward slowly," he said.
The funding, however, that the developers received will go back to EMDC through the a loan repayment plan, the letter reads.
"Big projects like Moosehead are fluid and they change constantly," said Lee Umphrey, EMDC president.
"There's a lot of options on the table," he added. "I think the current developers are still keen on making this happen. They've invested a lot of time and money themselves in making this happen, so I think they've kept the door open."
While it drew some criticism from residents in the Moosehead Lake region, the project was largely seen as a much-needed economic boon for area. And after months of local debate, the ski redevelopment proposal had earned two-year permits from the Land Use Planning Commission earlier this year.
"The good point is that it's fully permitted, and so somebody, either this current development team or some new investors, can come forward and move this permitted-project forward," Umphrey said. "Because for the region, for the local economy and this part of the state, it's a real game-changer, in that it's going to create jobs, boost the economy and make the Moosehead area the destination it should be."
The Bangor Daily News first reported that the project has been halted.