'Digloos' partners aim to add lodging for Colebrook visitors
COLEBROOK - The opening of the Ride the Wilds trail to ATVs last summer from Gorham to Pittsburg has shown the North Country the potential economic powerhouse it can be.
But in order to take full advantage of what's possible, more lodging is needed, especially as the trail gets further north, business leaders say.
Colebrook is one of those more northern towns that could really benefit. With many other services in place there, adding more lodging could help the local economy.
In order to address this need, two business owners have gotten together to develop a project they call "Digloos on the Wild." Like the name suggests, it is underground housing with a dome shape.
Darrell Pack, owner of Pack Custom Carpentry LLC, in New Durham, had been looking for a place to construct a couple of digloos to see how they went. He had originally looked at land in Bartlett.
As chance would have it, the landowner he was speaking with there was also co-owner of land in Colebrook and suggested Pack take a look at that property.
The other co-owner of the Colebrook land was Steve Baillargeon, owner of Bear Rock ATV Rental in Colebrook.
Baillargeon had first-hand experience about the need for lodging there.
"It's not even close to being enough," Baillargeon said, regarding what's available presently.
Some visitors are camping, he said, but many turn around and drive back down. Some have to go as far as North Conway to find lodging.
And that means not much time is spent seeing what else the area has to offer, like skiing, hiking and snowshoeing in the winter, and biking, rafting, canoeing, hunting and fishing in other seasons.
"People need to step it up," Baillargeon said, regarding the potential economic opportunity. "There's money coming in."
Baillargeon said he decided to join in with Pack because he likes the concept being proposed.
Pack said his company is a full-service construction company but has concentrated on interior work, particularly kitchens.
His company will be focusing on the interior work of the digloos.
The engineering, architecture and structural steel will come from Formworks Building Inc. of Durango, Colo. Pack said this company has more than 30 years of experience building these kinds of structures and has developed drainage and ventilation systems to keep them comfortable and dry.
The project calls for 10 of these units to be built on 10 acres. They would be developed under Colebrook's cluster housing regulations with a common well and septic. Each unit would sleep four.
The units are underground, but one wall is open, and they will be situated to take full advantage of the view. A gas fireplace will heat the inside, and geothermal transfer will be used to heat walkways, cutting down on snow removal costs and keeping walkways dry.
The units will be lit by fiber-optic lighting powered by solar collectors with single source LED lighting for night, according to an executive summary of the project.
Pack said he is also looking for artists who work with fiber-optic lighting to provide art for the interior.
The digloos will be unique in another way as well.
They will effectively be showrooms, with everything, from beds and other furnishings, to the art on the walls, available for sale. Pack said this will offer local craftspeople an opportunity to showcase their works, as well as possibly make some money.
Pack said they have talked informally with Colebrook's town manager about the project, as well as others in town and everyone is excited about what they are planning.
They have not presented a plan to the planning board yet as they are working on getting investors for the project in place first.
Anyone interested in more information can email Pack at firstname.lastname@example.org.