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Residents Raise Concerns Over Powder Ridge Agreement

Selectman agreed to sell the abandoned ski area to Powder Ridge Mountain Park and Resort LLC on Monday, but residents attending Tuesday's Board of Selectmen meeting questioned the agreement.

 

A handful of Middlefield residents shared their concerns Tuesday night over the distribution and details of the sales agreement reached this week between the town and Powder Ridge Mountain Park and Resort LLC owner Sean Hayes.

The concerns were brought up during a nearly hour-long public comment period at the start of last night's Board of Selectmen meeting and ranged from whether pages of the agreement are missing from copies available at town hall to whether Hayes is financially prepared to buy and invest in Powder Ridge, which has sat vacant for five years.

On Monday, selectmen held a special meeting in executive session to review the agreement. At the end of the meeting, in a 2-1 vote, to Hayes for $700,000.

"[Monday's] behavior by the first selectman and second selectman at the Board of Selectmen's meeting was a travesty," said Lucy Petrella reading from a letter she'd written following the meeting.

Read Petrella's full letter in the attached PDF

Petrella, who serves as chairman of Middlefield's Board of Finance, said she was upset that her request that the finance board be directly involved in discussions regarding the agreement was denied by First Selectman Jon Brayshaw.

In an email to Petrella, Brayshaw said the request was "inappropriate and unfair ... to have an assortment of folks participating in the negotiations."

"I am strongly in favor of developing Powder Ridge," Petrella said. "What I am not in favor of, however, is selling out the people of Middlefield to any buyer at any cost just to get Powder Ridge off our backs."

Resident Seb Aresco, who is a member of the town's Economic Development Commission, made it clear that he was not in favor of a provision in the agreement that gives Hayes the right of first refusal if or when the town decides to sell the 20-acre parcel of land recently split from the property.

"Why would you want to give someone the right of first refusal," Aresco asked.

When several residents questioned whether an audit of Hayes' finances would be made available to the public, Brayshaw said he expected only to see an executive summary of the audit.

The summary, he said, would be made available to the public at a later date.

"It's awfully hard to figure out what's going on," resident Jim Brown said, referring to the length of the agreement. Brayshaw said the amount of performance clauses in the agreement led to it's unusual length.

Pat Brown said copies of the agreement distributed at town hall were missing several pages, including a section she said appeared to absolve Hayes from the requirement of providing ten years of skiing at Powder Ridge.

Selectman Ed Bailey said the clause had been carefully reviewed by the town's attorney and required a high burden of proof.

"It would be something akin to the fact that every single ski area in the state of Connecticut has gone out of business," Bailey said.

Brayshaw said a public hearing will be scheduled soon to allow residents the opportunity to hear Hayes' business plan or ask questions before they vote on whether to sell him the property.

"He's getting the deal of a lifetime," said resident Susan Heuberger. "I'm just looking to see if he has gratitude for that."

Mickey July 18, 2012 at 11:15 AM
I think its a great deal- and I think so does the entire town, except for those seven loudmouths that just want to stir up trouble.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT July 18, 2012 at 12:21 PM
Shawn Hayes is getting a great deal. We should all applaud him for taking this off our hands and getting the property back on the tax rolls. Shawn and Jon Brayshaw should atleast wait to close until after December 1, 2012 so Middlefield taxpayers won't have to pay the $225,000.00 to Middlefield Holdings that is still owed on Powder Ridge. After all Shawn has stated repeatedly that the renovation of Powder Ridge will be slow. Give the taxpayers a break. Where are we going to come up with $225,000.00. I'll bet Shawn will not walk away if he has to wait until December to close. He is smarter than that and this deal to to great for him to pass up.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT July 18, 2012 at 12:32 PM
I heard that Jon Brayshaw is willing to wait until early September to have the town vote. Middlefield voters will be back from vacation and there will be a greater turnout to approve the contract. I sure hope this is true. Thanks Jon.
Scott Wheeler July 19, 2012 at 01:58 AM
Life it'self has hazards and risk. It is those who challenge these negative aspects of life that become leaders and not followers. I do not look at the negatives that some see but the positives, the prospect of Middlefield becoming a great Connecticut destination between Lymans and now a revitalized Powder Ridge. I have heard Sean's 2-3 year thoughts and they are fantastic and I am very confident many others will enjoy his vision if he achives it. Everytime I see the question of where is Sean's business model and a copy of his finances I want to point out that all one needs to do is visit Brownstone. How many have seen that quary at it's worst before Sean came in there and created a certified Connecticut destination? Who would have had that vision from looking at a watery grave for dozens of autos? Right now as far as I know Sean is batting 1.000 when it comes to taking on rehab projects. HIs ideas are thinking outside the box and they work, he gets more more his capital than others. I see Lyman's new practice facility doing business, the mazes are growing, and apple season is coming. I see NY state tags coming to enjoy Lymans and learning that a ski resort is coming back and taking some of Vermont's business due to CT being closer. I see shops, dining, and adults enjoying themselves as the kids are on the slopes, the next generation of "The Rat Pack" for those in the know. Lets get this done, leaders not followers.
Just my opinion July 19, 2012 at 01:45 PM
I would love to see this go to a referendum vote so that each and every tax payer truly has the chance to express their opinion on the sale. If it passes then it sells if not then it doesn't seem like such a bad idea to give everyone their choice. there are people who feel positive about the field and other are positive. It is a shame that so many feel things are being hidden from the general public. So why not let do it the right way give everyone a vote. I still would love to have seen a lease agreement instead of a sale. But that is just my opinion.
Mickey July 19, 2012 at 01:49 PM
Well said Scott. I too am looking forward to this being a success.

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