ENFIELD — Whaleback Ski Area was purchased by a nonprofit organization on Dec. 20 and anticipates opening only eight days later on Dec. 28 after months of rigorous fundraising and preparations.
Lake Sunapee Bank sold the 100 acre ski area that included the lifts, trails and all buildings to the Upper Valley Snow Sports Foundation (UVSSF).
"We acquired the area last Friday. The bank agreed to a $120,000 reduction in price on condition we could buy it during December of 2013 and we paid the bank $300,000. Of that $300,000, $200,000 came from the Jack and Dorothy Byrne Foundation," said UVSSF Chairman John Schiffman. After January 1, 2014, the price would revert back to $475,000, which was the bankrupt balance.
The return of cold weather is in their favor to turn on the four new high-capacity fan guns to make snow. "We were making snow prior to the rain event of Sunday and Monday, and obviously that was a setback, but we resumed snowmaking when it got cold," said Schiffman
Locals are eagerly anticipating the opening of Whaleback.
"The local club is planning a touch light parade on New Year Eve," added Schiffman
Whaleback made substantial improvements including a renovated kitchen, new well and replacement of the old septic system. A new deck is also being built.
"I'm not sure if the deck will be completed by Saturday, and rain hurt us a bit, but of our capital maintenance items that is only one that is not going to be complete by Saturday. Volunteers are helping with the construction, and we had a lot of volunteer help," said Schiffman.
New lights and a surface lift are planned for next year.
"We are approximately 25 percent through our capital which is good since we started on Oct. 1," said Schiffman.
The new general manager is Dick Harris, who brings 30 years of experience to Whaleback, including his time as general manager at the Balsams.
He plans to load skiers and snowboarders on the lifts as soon as snowmaking operations can put down a solid foundation.
Whaleback's total capital improvement budget is $2.4 million and $400,000 is for operating reserves. Donations are still being accepted.
"UVSSF is on schedule and we expect to reach our fundraising goals as originally planned," said UVSSF board member John Schiffman.
Tax deductible donations can be made to UVSSF or Whaleback Project and sent to: UVSSF, PO Box 606 Lebanon, NH 03766.
For more information visit www.whaleback.com or call 448-5500.