Stack owners hoping for a comeback
by Mike Eldred
Oct 08, 2009 | 14229 views | 9 9 comments | 65 65 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Chairs wait to be reattached to the Hayfever lift at Haystack Ski Area earlier this week. Crews  have been working on the lift in anticipation of operating it on a limited basis this winter. 				      M. Eldred
Chairs wait to be reattached to the Hayfever lift at Haystack Ski Area earlier this week. Crews have been working on the lift in anticipation of operating it on a limited basis this winter. M. Eldred
WILMINGTON- In a development sure to please some Wilmington residents, the owners of Haystack Club have announced that they intend to open Haystack ski area this season.

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.
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haystack kid
December 09, 2009
I wish they would just charge a $20 membership fee once a year and allow anybody to buy lift tickets after they are "members". Just run it as a ski area. Nobody wants your $100,000 memberships with $12,000 annual dues. Also, why spend hundreds of thousands for townhouses when there is an ample supply of more reasonably priced real estate in the valley. If they did, they would have snapped them up when you first started to push the club idea during the good times. Times have changed...

Personally I would love to see this mountain taken back from these guys and run again... Magic is operating after being closed for a long time. Why not Haystack?

And marketing the skiing without the Witches lift running makes no sense to me. Needle, Flying Dutchman, Rocker and Jennifer's run (aka 007) are not going to sell high priced memberships.

October 22, 2009
We loved Haystack. But, this plan sounds so wacky. Only 250 Wilmington residents will be permitted to ski on Haystack per day it's open, in addition to "members" of the club or people who own property there. Does that mean that folks who live in West Dover will not be able to be among the 250? What about people who own second homes in Wilmington? Will they count or will they have to show a drivers license? I wonder if the owners know yet what they'll be charging for a membership. The idea that many properties within the complex will be sold just doesn't seem too realistic to me. I want this to work because I want to ski there again but this project just seems doomed. Why did Mt Snow insist upon such a deal?
John. D.
October 13, 2009
Really happy to hear about the mountain opening up, but I hope they understand the amount of work they have ahead of them. From walking around the area, I have seen the area quickly fall into disrepair over the past few years. Their grooming equipment hasn’t moved, their snowmaking system hasn’t been charged, and the brush is really starting to encroach on the trails the tractor-mounted mowers have not been able to access. All the best wishes to them, though they have quite a challenge ahead.
J.F., Wilmington
October 13, 2009
I too, am really excited about possibly seeing the 'Stack open... It's been a long time coming for this ole skier. Oh yeah, what is "Readsboro's" deal? He sounds like a bitter ex-employee... So quit making up stuff and posting garbage, at 1 am no less! Learn to use spellcheck while you are up that late!
Matt F., E. Dover
October 13, 2009
I am excited for Haystack's reopening in the Valley and hope both mountains can revitalize a ski based economy in our area. I look forward to skiing at Haystack in the future. However, I would like to address "readsboro citizen" and his/her baseless claims of Mount Snow's "babies and greedy people" and the alleging of Lift Operations personnel engaing in alcohol & drugs while on duty. If you have any proof, please contact the Lift Operations Manager and he would gladly listen to your "story" Factless rumors and disgruntled claims are just that...
readsboro citizen
October 12, 2009
Make sure to higher and pay good for all Locals who live by. Let Haystack be number in the valley instead of Mount snow.. Mount snow is nothing but babies and greedy people. I have seen this from experience, also to make a complaint a lot fo the ski operators summer and winter supervisor do nothing but smoke pot and drink beer.. Let Haystack lead.. Haystack from in the past are better, friendliar and most of all they know how to work.. Go Haystack!!
October 10, 2009
Hey, can't wait to hop onto one of those rusty about you?
Wilmington Resident
October 09, 2009
Open the main lift, the best part of the mountain is the top.

Double Diamond
October 09, 2009
What are the specfics with regard to water sources for snowmaking, I wonder? With the information provided so far, a long range investment it's not.