Alpine Ridge LLC of Fairfield, PA, has agreed to buy Powder Ridge Ski Area from the Town of Middlefield for $1 million.
First Selectman Jon Brayshaw signed the contract during a special meeting of the Middlefield Board of Selectmen Tuesday night, entering both sides into a 90-day due-diligence period.
"Tonight is a pivotal night. Middlefield has come a long way in seven to eight years and this is a giant step in the right direction," Brayshaw said.
Alpine President Dennis Abplanalp and the firm's attorney, John Corona, also provided the town with a $25,000 deposit that will be held until the end of the due-diligence period, during which time Alpine or the town can back out of the deal if provisions in the contract are not met.
"During the due-diligence period Alpine will have access to the site and will be able to do examinations to the buildings [to review] the condition of the property. They will be able to bring in consultants to look at the cost of doing things," Corona said.
"There's an infinite number of things that need to be done, and that all starts today," he continued.
The town will hold at least one public hearing during the due-diligence period. The final contract also requires approval at a town meeting, which is expected to take place in the late spring or early summer.
If the contract is approved by the town, Alpine Ridge LLC, which is a division of Alpine Associates, would be required to pay $275,000 at closing. The remaining $700,000 would be paid over the next seven years.
During the meeting, town attorney Ken Antin said that under the terms of the agreement, Alpine would be required to offer downhill skiing at Powder Ridge by Dec. 31, 2013.
Abplanalp, who recently visited the property, said he is eager to move forward with bringing skiing back to Powder Ridge and the town of Middlefield.
Abplanalp did not provide a definitive timetable on when the ski area might reopen because, he said, the damage left by several years of neglect at the property was extensive.
"They've taken most of the electrical out," he said. "The erosion that has already occurred is extensive. There is a lot of vandalism up there."
(For a look at the damage, check out the photos and video .)
The Town of Middlefield purchased Powder Ridge in 2008 for $2.55 million and offered to sell it to Alpine for $1 million in May of 2010.
While Middlefield will retain the development rights to the property, Alpine will be required by contract to invest $2 million into the property.
Abplanalp said investments, which are expected to exceed the amount required by the contract, include a new and improved snow-tubing area, improvements to the ski instructional area, as well as new snow-making equipment.
"It's not only that this ski area is profitable to us and our investors, but we are skiers," Abplanalp said.
Brayshaw added, "We look forward to this next phase and the town pledges itself to help [Alpine]."