Two Small-Town Areas in U.S., Canada Face Closure
SAM Magazine—Rumford, Maine, June 27, 2013—The Maine Winter Sports Center (MWSC) will close the Black Mountain ski area here after the town voted to not fund the resort as a recreational resource. More than 3,000 miles to the northwest, at Mt. Sima in Whitehorse, Yukon, a similar story is playing out.
In Maine, Andy Shepard, president and CEO of the MWSC, said in a press release that sales were up at Black Mountain last year after the group made improvements and lowered prices. The changes led to increases of 197 percent in ticket sales and a 93 percent in rentals, he said. But the nonprofit and its funders decided to shut down after Rumford voters nixed a $51,000 allocation to keep the ski area operating in a June 11 referendum. MWSC said that no final decisions have been made about the mountain’s Nordic program, but that could also close.
It’s still possible that the many organizations that have used the alpine and Nordic facilities at Black Mountain will help raise the needed funds. Dozens of area schools, as well as Maine colleges and universities, rely heavily on the site, which has also hosted national, collegiate and Junior Olympic events regularly since the early 1990s. News of the area’s closure could spur fundraising efforts.
In Whitehorse, the Great Northern Ski Society is ending its attempt to keep the Mt. Sima ski hill open. It will close July 2, following a vote by the City Council of Whitehorse to reject the Society’s business plan and its request for $400,000 in funding.
However, that may not be the end of Mt. Sima. The non-profit Society has accepted the city of Whitehorse’s counter-offer to buy the resort’s chairlift; the council approved nearly $200,000 to make the final payment on the $3 million lift. And council members are urging citizens to come up with ideas to save the facility. They will have to think fast, though: negotiations between the Society and council to determine the ultimate fate of the area have already begun.