Selectmen voted 2-1 Wednesday night to move forward with a proposal from the owner of a Portland water park to buy Powder Ridge ski area for $1 million.
In a presentation to the board and about 40 residents, Sean Hayes, managing director of, said he hoped to turn the abandoned ski area into an outdoor adventure sports park.
"If we can successfully give everyone in the family something to do, this property can be and will be successful," Hayes said. "That's our plan."
Hayes' proposal includes tubing, downhill skiing, snowboarding and freestyle skiing - activities he said would compliment his already successful summertime operation just five miles away.
"I think we have an advantage over all those that came before us. You have an industry shift away from downhill skiing to what's called freestyle skiing and we're going to leverage that shift," he said about his plans.
- Watch our video to hear Hayes talk about why he thinks he can be successul in Middlefield -
Hayes said Brownstone expects to attract 75,000 vistors this summer and employs about 125 part-time employees. He said those same customers and employees would help make a winter sports park at Powder Ridge successful.
"[It's] another synergy that we can turn those faucets on much more immediately than any other competitor that's coming into this market."
Before voting on Hayes' proposal, selectman Dave Burgess questioned whether the town should require a larger downpayment than the $275,000 required at closing as well as interest payments on the balance of the property.
"Essentially, I really feel if we're going do this, if we're going to go down that road there should be some sort of interest payment," Burgess said.
First Selectman Jon Brayshaw, who'd met with Hayes several times before Wednesday's meeting, attempted to pursuade Burgess to support the proposal.
"This is the same deal, basically, that we afforded Alpine [Ridge]. This is the one that the people voted 10-1 to go with," he said.
Burgess eventually voted down the proposal although said he thought it was a good plan and he expected residents to approve it.
In addition to paying $1 million for the property, Hayes said he expected to pay about $45,000 annually in property taxes to the town.
According to the four-page Letter of Intent, Hayes plans to sell a 20 to 40 acre parcel of the property to another potential business, a process that would require approval by the town's Planning and Zoning Commission.
Hayes stressed that in order for the deal to work, he needed the town's support.
"It's got to be a strong relationship to bring this property back to what it was. Yes it is a business. Yes it has to make economic sense to my investors. It has to make economic sense to the Town of Middlefield. It has to make sense to the residents of Middlefield and, lets not forget, the customers," he said.
No public comments were allowed during the meeting.
A public hearing on Hayes' proposal is tentatively scheduled for Tuesday, March 6, at 7 p.m. at Memorial School.