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Shares in Big Tupper? It could happen

November 19, 2011
Editorial by the Adirondack Daily Enterprise: Publisher Catherine Moore, Managing Editor Peter Crowley

Enterprise Staff Writer Jessica Collier posted something Tuesday on Big Deal @ Big Tupper, her blog about the Adirondack Club and Resort proposal, that got our wheels turning:

"The Boston Globe is reporting today on a ski slope in Londonderry, Vt., where citizens are doing something similar to what's happened in Tupper Lake over the last two years.

"At Magic Mountain (maybe the name helped a bit?), they've raised nearly $1 million to renovate the mountain there by selling shares to renovate a mountain that was closed for most of the 1990s. Once a certain number of shares are sold, ownership will transfer to a partnership that includes share owners and Magic president Jim Sullivan.

"It's similar to what happened at Hickory Ski Center in Warrensburg, which is now owned by about 300 shareholders."

"It's interesting, because it seems to come out of the same spirit that helped ARISE reopen Big Tupper on a volunteer basis. Yet they are looking to make that model sustainable, while ARISE says that it's impossible to keep that going here for much longer. Granted Big Tupper's model was designed to be temporary while the ACR awaits permitting, with volunteer labor and many temporary patches to the infrastructure there, but I wonder if it could have been successful if it was designed in a more sustainable way."

By selling shares, Magic and Hickory sound kind of like Saranac Lake's Community Store. We're not endorsing that model for Big Tupper, but Jess' blog got us thinking of a potential future scenario in which it could come about.

The Adirondack Club and Resort developers own Big Tupper outright, but some locals worry they won't renovate or reopen Big Tupper, as planned, if lots don't sell quickly.

Another question: Would lift tickets get too expensive for local people to ski regularly, as they have done in the past and will do again this winter?

The ski hill is likely to be a money pit, but the developers need it because it helps them sell lots.

But do they need to own it? The resort is also dependent on a nearby golf course and publicly owned waterways and wilderness to attract buyers. The developers don't own these things or have control over them.

It would be interesting if the developers sold local people shares in the ski area.

For locals, their investment might guarantee that the ski area would get done, regardless of how quickly lots are sold. It could also keep ticket prices lower - maybe just for shareholders, or maybe for everyone.

For the developers, the extra capital might be welcome to help mitigate the losses incurred in running the ski area. It also could help public relations with the local community, pre-empting complaints about speed of renovation and lift ticket prices.

We're not necessarily endorsing such a set-up, but we want to put the idea out there. It reassured us to think that even if the developers fail to sell lots at their hoped-for pace - even if the resort never reaches full build-out - they and the community have other options to keep the ski area up and running.



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