The Maine Winter Sports Center will no longer fund Big Rock Mountain. Since 1999, the Libra Foundation, which helps fund the Maine Winter Sports Center, has invested over 6 million dollars in the mountain. But now, changes to Libra’s funding means Big Rock funding will end.
President and CEO of the Maine Winter Sports Center, Andy Shepard explains, “When we bought Big Rock in 1999, the intention was to build the business up, up to the point where it could stand on it’s own and turn it back to the community. And the feeling is that that time has come.”
The Mountain did see an increase in sales last year, but not enough to make up this loss of funding.
“The mountain still lost money…so to keep the mountain open, there will have to be a fundraising effort…that will have to be led by the community”, said Shepard.
Shepard estimates about 200,000 dollars will need to be raised to keep Big Rock operational this year but adds that the mountain itself is in great shape.
Andy Shepard says “We’ve made significant investments in a snow making system and water capacity, we’ve added a new beginner/intermediate trail system with the triple chair…there’s the magic carpet, I love that name, in the kids area….we’ve done a lot of improvements to the lodge. We dramatically expanded the seating capacity last year and added a lounge and other things…so we’re proud of the investments that’s been made there…proud of the progress that’s been made.”
Shepard says he’s confident the community will see the importance of Big Rock Mountain and pull together so that when the snow starts to fly, the skiing season can begin.
NewsSource 8 spoke with Mars Hill town manager Karin Petrin and while she says she hasn’t been in the loop throughout the decision making process she says “Mars Hill is very interested in seeing the Mountain remain open and be successful. And the town would be very interested in participating with any new community partners that become involved.” The Maine Winter Sports Center was also financing another Ski Mountain in Maine, Black Mountain in Rumford. In June, it was announced the Maine Winter Sports Center would also be discontinuing that funding…Shepard says the money to keep Black Mountain open has already been raised and he hopes the same will happen here in Aroostook County.