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Details Emerge in Failed Deal, Possible New Plan to Open Powder Ridge

First selectman says he will meet with interested investors in coming weeks.

More details emerged Friday about a possible to develop Powder Ridge ski area, as well as what may have lead to the collapse this week of a deal between Middlefield and Alpine Ridge LLC, of Fairfeld, PA.

"Rumors of the demise of the Powder Ridge deal are greatly exaggerated (with apologies to Mark Twain)," First Selectman Jon Brayshaw said in a prepared statement Friday.

"I have been in contact with one of the associates of Alpine Ridge and it appears that there is a group interested in completing a purchase of Powder Ridge," the statement continues.

The announcement comes less than 72 hours after Brayshaw announced that the $1 million deal with Alpine to buy Powder Ridge by Dennis Abplanalp, the company's president.

"We didn't jump the gun," Brayshaw said during in interview at Town Hall, indicating that Abplanalp had failed to follow through on his end of the agreement.

"I'm unaware, but I can't remember very much that Dennis did during the 90 days [due diligence period]," Brayshaw added.

One issue in particular, the delay over the approval of a water diversion permit, led the town to delay the closing on the property .

The permit is necessary to draw water from Lake Beseck to use for snowmaking and is currently under review by the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP).

Brayshaw said Abplanalp had failed to send an engineer to Middlefield to submit details of the company's plans.

While Abplanalp's interest in Powder Ridge waned, some members remained interested in restoring the property, according to Brayshaw.

"What would have been more appropriate is for Dennis to talk to his group and then seamlessly continue the effort," Brayshaw said.

Abplanalp could not be reached for comment.

The "associate" mentioned in Friday's statement refers to Rick Sabatino, who owns Apollo Consulting Inc., a Canadian company.

Sabatino previously worked as a consultant for Alpine during the company's negotiations to buy Powder Ridge and was present during the company's residents in May.

"I will be traveling to Middlefield within the next couple of weeks with one of the individuals interested in seeing the project go forward," Sabatino said in an email.

"[The investor] represents a group who are actively investigating turning Powder Ridge into a year-round destination. Their involvement would turn Powder Ridge into more than a ski hill," the email continues.

Brayshaw said he is working out the details to meet with Sabatino sometime in early November.

"What Rick wants to do is pickup where Dennis left off," he explained.

While Brayshaw remained optimistic that the two sides could reach a deal, he expressed disappointment over the public response to Alpine's withdrawl.

"It sickens me. It has nothing to do with any political affiliation, I win and you lose," he said. "Powder Ridge is not a poltical tootsie roll, it's the biggest thing Middlefield has ever had to tackle. It just happens to be on my watch," he said.

Joe Geruch, the town's finance director, said the status of a $500,000 grant by the Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) had not changed.

He said the money would still be used for structural improvements on the property if and when a deal is finalized.

Brayshaw said, if anything, the dealings involving Powder Ridge have taught him patience.

His advice to residents?

"Believe none of what you hear, and half of what you see."

Robert October 28, 2011 at 08:34 PM
Moving deck chairs on the Titanic. There's no deal and Brayshaw just wants to cover his butt two weeks out from an election.
MiddlefieldMom October 28, 2011 at 10:03 PM
Its a shame what Dem chairwoman Alison Dodge and Matt Lesser did. Issuing negative press releases to attack Brayshaw a week before the election when the deal wasn't even off was a horrible act. They should both be ashamed of themselves. When are people going to stop only caring about getting more votes and do what is right for the citizens. Dodge and Lesser should issue press releases and apologize for their actions.
Peter October 29, 2011 at 02:39 AM
Keep up the good work Mr. Brayshaw, Mr. Bailey, and Mrs. Johnson. You have all done a terrific job and put our town first and not politics. As far as Mr. Lesser, issuing a press release criticizing others without the facts was political, disgusting, and obviously incorrect.It seems to me you were more worried about trying to make someone look bad, instead of having all the facts and help our community. I agree, you should be an adult and issue an apology for your political nonsense.
sue October 29, 2011 at 04:30 AM
Obviously Mr Brayshaw was not on top of this sale , he obviously was not communicating well with Dennis, or was not sharp enough to sense trouble, not sharp enough to ask Matt Lesser for help, if that is what was needed.Mr Brayshaw never mentioned Mr. Lesser's name in any BOS meeting .Why did the pullout come as a surprise? If ,as he says this is the biggest deal ever in Middlefield's history , he should have been noticing things that pointed to trouble , Middlefield citizens have volunteered thousands of man- hours to get Powder Ridge up and running, and many have been sent on an emotional roller coaster as well , We need better management.
Jay Berardino October 29, 2011 at 08:05 PM
State Rep. Matt Lesser boldly claims that he and "the State of Connecticut" responded immediately to each and every request for help on this project. In fact, an application for a permit to use water from Lake Beseck to make snow for the ski area was pending for well over a year at the state Department of Environmental Protection without approval. The ability to operate the ski area was in question during that whole time. Without that permit no deal was feasible. Mr. Lesser's "State help" was slow in coming. However Mr. Lesser's criticism of the effort's of others came quickly enough.
Stephen Fowler November 04, 2011 at 04:53 AM
Matt Lesser and local critics blaming Jon Brayshaw for the collapse of the ski area sale to Alpine is as myopic as blaming the global economic collapse on a single national party. It’s not our local board members, either Democrat or Republican, who are to blame for the problems selling Powder Ridge. It’s the depressed economy and contentious Middlefield residents who oppose summer expansion at Powder Ridge that scare investors. It will take 4-6 million dollars to revamp the ski area, and without a boisterous summer recreational program…. it’s a tenuous investment. As for Jon Brayshaw, he has clearly demonstrated the most sincere track record of support for the ski area. Nearly a decade ago, when Mr. Levitt was nearing bankruptcy, I saw Jon shoveling snow, calling officials to get power turned on, and recruiting help at the state level when many others, including most of the Middlefield Democratic Committee, had turned their back on the whole deal. I think it’s safe to say that most everyone wants the ski area back in operation. And chances are, either party could work to finish the deal. But Jon’s intent is clear, and unbiased by self-interest. He works for the taxpayer, not his own agenda. He works well across party lines and is non-judgmental. This doesn't appear to be true of his critics.

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