Middlefield officials have taken an important step ahead of Thursday's sale of Powder Ridge ski area.
At a special meeting on Tuesday night, selectmen agreed to modify a lease agreement between the town and Middlefield Holdings that will require the town to pay the company $200,000 when the property is sold to Brownstone owner Sean Hayes.
The four-year lease was negotiated after Middlefield Holdings bought the ski area in 2008 for $2.75 million. Shorly thereafter, the company sold the property to the town for $2.55 million and required the town to pay $225,000 if the ski area was sold before Dec. 1, 2012.
Town attorney Kenneth Antin said Middlefield Holdings had recently agreed to reduce the lease payment by $25,000. As a result, the town will be required to pay Middlefield Holdings $100,000 upon closing and another $100,000 next year, he said.
In addition, the town will pay for half of Middlefield Holdings' legal fees resulting in the lease modification, Antin said.
Selectmen also agreed Tuesday to terminate the lease once the initial payment is made, clearing the way for Hayes to purchase the defunct ski area as Powder Ridge Mountain Park and Resort LLC.
A closing on the property is scheduled for Thursday.
At Tuesday's meeting, Christine Leavitt, the wife of former Powder Ridge ski area owner Kenneth Leavitt and the only member of the public in attendance, accused the board of being "secretive" in its dealings involving the lease with Middlefield Holdings.
"Excuse me for being so rude, but I really think this is not properly done. The general public should be made aware of what the key representative of this town is signing," Leavitt said. "I don't think half the people knew there was a lease in existence."
Although the meeting's agenda did not include a public comment period, Leavitt also asked Antin whether there were any liens on the property.
"Valid liens? No," Antin replied.
Brayshaw, Hayes: Appraisal Validates Powder Ridge Price
In other Powder Ridge related news, Sean Hayes told Patch on Tuesday that the property was recently appraised at $640,000. The private appraisal was completed as Hayes negotiated financing for the redevelopment of the ski area.
Some have been critical of the town for agreeing to sell the 226-acre property to Hayes for $700,000. Brayshaw said the appraisal validated the final asking price.
"I have the obligation to my constituents to make sure that they know I'm not screwing them," Brayshaw said.