Haystack Club’s Bob Rubin said crews from Poma, the ski lift manufacturer, have been working on the Hayfever lift, refurbishing it in preparation for the approaching ski season. “There will be skiing this year,” Rubin said. “We want to get people back on the mountain.”
The lift will be load-tested within the next few weeks. The load test simulates operation of the lift with a full complement of passengers. Barrels filled with water are used to simulate riders and the lift is operated for several days with observers from the Vermont Department of Labor Passenger Tramway Division, the lift manufacturer, and the insurance carrier.
Once the testing and certification are completed, Rubin said the lift will be ready for operation this winter. Hayfever will bring passengers up to the mid-mountain area, about 3,300 feet, where skiers can access several trails. “We’ll have a minimum of five trails open this year,” Rubin said.
Under Haystack Club’s purchase agreement with Mount Snow, the ski area cannot be opened to the general public. Only the owner/members of the club, and up to 250 Wilmington residents per day, can ski at Haystack.
Rubin said the ski area will be open only on weekends, and through the holiday weeks. “We’ll be open for the 250 Wilmington folks that we can sell tickets to, and it will give people who are interested in purchasing the real estate a chance to sample the mountain,” Rubin said.
Haystack Club plans to open with “the other guys” in the area, Rubin said, meaning Mount Snow, and that means snowmaking. Haystack Club will be making snow “to the best of (their) ability” on the trails serviced by the Hayfever lift.
The former Haystack Upper Base Lodge was partially demolished during Haystack Club’s initial phase of construction. Rubin said one of the townhouses in the development’s only completed building will “probably” be converted into a place for skiers to warm up, get a cup of coffee, and take a look at Haystack Club’s real estate offerings. Rubin said he’s not expecting the “mini-ski area” will be particularly busy, at least until more memberships are sold. “We’ll be selling membership in our club, and we’ll have our real estate operation going, with units listed on the MLS (multiple listing service),” Rubin said. “We have one building complete and one foundation ready for us to start framing as soon as we need to. We’re hoping we can get people interested in the concept and the plan and sell some real estate to help fuel development.”
Rubin said the real estate will be priced very competitively, and those who buy early will “do quite well” once the ski resort is in full operation. Until then, he said, membership at Haystack Club includes membership at Haystack Golf Club. “People told us last time that if we could get the ski area open, it could help them make the decision to buy,” Rubin said. “Now it’s open. So when you size it up against the other folks in town, we’re offering a mini-ski area, attached to a townhouse, with an 18-hole championship golf course.”
The project slowed almost to a halt in January 2007, only a few months after officially breaking ground. Developers proposed an ambitious plan that included 118 four-unit townhouses, an 81-unit condominium complex on the upper mountain area, an 89-unit condominium complex on the lower mountain area, a 162-unit hotel, as well as an extensive remodeling of the former Haystack Upper Base Lodge, a new base lodge, restaurant, spa complex, a centrally located propane facility, and a mountain operations building.
The club also planned major improvements to the slopes, such as a “chondola” combination chairlift and gondola, as well as snowmaking and trail improvements.
Since 2007, however, 1 Cornell, the company behind Haystack Club, has continued to move forward with the permitting process and some construction. “The way the economy is, we felt like we needed to take a softer approach,” Rubin said. “We’re continuing at the same pace.”
Earlier this spring, 1 Cornell transferred its assets to Alt Charities, a company with many of the same officers as 1 Cornell.