Laurel Mountain Breaking News
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hockeydave
March 20, 2007
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
I just got off of the phone with Tyson Cook from Somerset Trust. He has given me permission to post this information. Somerset Trust is in very serious negotiations with a group (which he could not name due to confidentiality) that is more than just a "tire-kicker". And no, they are not from Montana. They do have experience with ski operations. He is very optimistic that a deal can happen very soon. Everybody who wants to see Laurel Mountain re-open again, keep your fingers crossed.
tromano
March 20, 2007
Member since 12/19/2002 🔗
998 posts
Sounds good to me.
hockeydave
April 13, 2007
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts


I just received this email from Tyson Cook of Somerset Trust and he has given me permission to post this info:

"Our potential buyer has just recently decided to withdraw. Unfortunately I can't give you his name (confidentiality) but I can tell you that this project was truly not big enough for his group to do. His company has done over $2B in development over the past 15 years and Laurel Mountain would barely even show up on their radar. The guy was somewhat interested in doing it personally but ultimately decided that it would be too time consuming.

Unfortunately, this now takes us going back to the drawing board and starting all over again. Jerry Jones (our broker in Colorado) is still working on selling the resort however we've decided to put a new twist on to things that we hadn't considered earlier. The Bank is now willing to look at anyone interested in just the slopes....or just the village land. Before, we packaged them together in the deal but that hasn't worked and we now need to be more flexible with our prospective buyers.

We still have a few interested parties that have been lingering out there for a while and we'll see what this does to the overall equation."
jimmy
April 13, 2007
Member since 03/5/2004 🔗
2,650 posts
hockeydave this news isn't the news we all were hoping to hear but maybe there's good news in the disappointing:

Quote:

The Bank is now willing to look at anyone interested in just the slopes....or just the village land. Before, we packaged them together in the deal but that hasn't worked and we now need to be more flexible with our prospective buyers.





Sounds like they're done trying to hit a home run and ready to get this (their involvement) over with??
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bawalker
April 13, 2007
Member since 12/1/2003 🔗
1,547 posts
I take it this would potentially make things easier for a Co-Op to run just the slopes while say another business ran the business side of things at the lodge and housing??
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
April 13, 2007
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,859 posts
Sad news indeed, it looked like this group had the resources to develop Laurel's full potential. Three has been real interest in forming a co-op to run Laurel. I have a list of contacts from a previous meeting. I'm just not convinced that there is enough interest to raise the capital to reopen Laurel in its current state. Perhaps the DCNR will now seriously consider operating Laurel. Doug Finger has always been ready to assume the responsibilities if given the green light from his superiors. The petition campaign we did here was noticed but in the end the response was limited and the timing wrong.

I've been convinced that Laurel will only open if those of us interested take the time and recruit the talent and make it happen. So I ask all of you interested Laurel enthusiast, where do we go from here?
SpringsRegular
April 14, 2007
Member since 10/14/2004 🔗
153 posts
While I love Laurel, I really think that until land is released and the infrastructure (lifts and snow making) is upgraded that the place has little chance of being successful.
snosnugums
April 14, 2007
Member since 04/10/2006 🔗
126 posts
I wonder if these folks were also interested in Hidden Valley and perhaps are close to closing a deal to buy the place. Have the Somerset Bank folks mentioned anything about that.
Roy
April 15, 2007
Member since 01/11/2000 🔗
609 posts
Maybe as a small group, we don't have the resources to turn Laurel around. However, would we have the resources to just buy the land? That is the first step. Do we know the price to buy the slopes and village (together and separate)?
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
April 15, 2007
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,859 posts
The land for sale is the lots at Laurel Mountain Village, a private home development right outside the access road of the ski area but not slope side. The land that is the ski area is state park land that comes with a restriction that doesn't allow overnight lodging. In fact the only allowable use of the land is for daily winter sports. The asking price for the Village land and the physical facility at the ski area (lodge, outbuildings, and aboveground components of the snowmaking system) is said to be 7 million.

It will cost roughly $400,000 to operate the ski area for a single season. That includes salaries, supplies and utilities. We must have this in hand before the season to begin preparation such as lift inspection and basic maintenance.

Are there 400 'investors' willing to put in $1000 for the privilege of owning a lease, lifts, lodge and related equipment to operate 1 season with the hope that enough income will be generated to sustain future operations? Both the DCNR and Somerset Trust have said they are willing to consider such a plan.
Roger Z
April 15, 2007
Member since 01/16/2004 🔗
2,181 posts
Does $400,000 a year operating include snowmaking?

One thousand a year per person is not that much different of a price than a seasons pass at a lot of resorts. I'd look at a some other options too. Possibly, for instance limit the number of "investors" to no more than 1,000 people but only the investors can ski there (you could almost use the additional investors as a dividend approach. For every additional 100 investors over 400, you lower the season pass price by $50 up to 1,000 investors). Alternatively, you could offer lifetime memberships for, say, $10,000 and then limited seasons passes after that, again, with a semi-private model in mind.

There's lots of different options for how to structure the business. I'd say the most important thing to do right now is put together a management team and begin doing some business planning and marketing studies. You'd want to be able to present your plan with a solid foundation in order to take ownership, you can't just wait for 400 or 500 people to voluntarily step forward and offer you their money. That won't happen.
skier219
April 15, 2007
Member since 01/8/2005 🔗
1,318 posts
I have never skied there, but am curious -- what state is the current infrastructure in? Is the snowmaking and lift infrastructure fairly modern and in good condition, and is there a good water supply for snowmaking? That, and at least one lodge/building in good condition, is the minimum needed to make it a worthwhile pursuit.

And for those of you who have skied there a lot, what is the terrain and natural snow situation like? Do the slopes hold snow well? (I noticed they are north facing, which is a great start).

This would be an interesting situation, since the state owns the land. Potential lessees would be putting in a lot of $$ to operate the ski area, but it would be difficult to justify long-term investments/improvements unless they would lead to short-term profits (since ultimately the improvements would be tied to state land use grants, etc). I am sure this has been a sticking point for every organization that has looked into this.
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
April 15, 2007
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,859 posts
Quote:

One thousand a year per person is not that much different of a price than a seasons pass at a lot of resorts. I'd look at a some other options too. Possibly, for instance limit the number of "investors" to no more than 1,000 people but only the investors can ski there.....




I understand that you're offering alternative business plans but this type of option will never get approval from the PA State Parks (DCNR). Laurel Mountain ski area is Laurel Mountain State Park and the DCNR will never turn over public land for a private country club.

Also, the problem isn't with a management team or a business plan. The problem is capital. Who do you present your team and plan to? Somerset Trust is interested in recouping its investment. If your team and plan fail, it matters not to them. It's the DCNR that you must convince, they ultimately control the lease and it is true that a proven team and solid plan are very important, the chief block is money and as long as there is no slopeside real estate development permissible then Laurel become unattractive to most private, for profit investment.

As far as infrastructure questions asked by skier 219, new lodge, out buildings and snowmaking system built for the '99-'00 season. Lifts are serviceable fixed grip quad and double serving about 70 acres of cut trail, with about 30 cover with snowmaking. Total ski area is over 400 acres which can be developed or skiing. Water resources are tight but solution could be found. There is a 900 foot vertical and Lower Wildcat and that face has about a 28 degree pitch about the same % grade as Killington's Outer Limits.
rjsherrin
April 15, 2007
Member since 09/28/2005 🔗
145 posts
I am definately interested in Laurel Mountain. Back in January, I was told that a man, I have his name and phone number at the office, bought the resort and Village for around 2 mill. I heard the bank took the offer so I quit pushing the issue. If it fell through, I am there. We need a grant writer to get state grants. The grants are good for the state land but the state will do nothing for the Village. I think a co-op with 400 to 500 investors along with grant money would work.
hockeydave
April 16, 2007
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
As far as hearing that someone bought Laurel Mountain, please don't believe any more rumors. From previous posts, I know that you have spoken with Tyson Cook in the past. He would be the only person to confirm any selling of the assets.

And based on the turnout (less than 20) of the last meeting (November or December of '06) to discuss a co-op effort for re-opening Laurel Mountain, I have serious reservations whether a co-op effort is even worth pursuing. Several people who were supposed to show up at this meeting did not. Frankly, unless someone or some group can devote themselves full time from now until next ski season to attain funding (i.e. grants), I can't imagine this effort is worthwhile. And for those of us working full time, I for one don't have that kind of time.

With Somerset Trust's new twist on selling the ski area and village assets separately, there may be a chance that a previously interested party might be able to afford buying the ski area assets and operating it. My opinion is that a white knight is necessary at this point to resurrect Laurel Mountain. And if it doesn't happen soon, Laurel might be found in the Lost Ski Areas section of this website. And that would be sad.
tromano
April 16, 2007
Member since 12/19/2002 🔗
998 posts
If you got 20 people in December that is actually pretty good turn out. Just my $.02
hockeydave
April 16, 2007
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
The 10 or so people who were there definitely want to see Laurel reopen again, but at least $500,000 is required to reopen Laurel. I know that I can't afford $50,000. And I'm fairly certain no one else there could either. All I'm pointing out is that I don't believe the interest is there for a co-op effort. If we called another meeting, and if 100 people attended, then I would be encouraged. But at this point, I am very dubious that that would happen.
skier219
April 16, 2007
Member since 01/8/2005 🔗
1,318 posts
Re: white knight, you mean a guy like this has to get involved:

http://www.sugarbush.com/aboutus/cm.asp?pn=win'sword&pid=220

Look at the WSJ adverts and the "CEO Corner" video.

Basically, this was a successful Wall Street banker who loved skiing, so he bought Sugarbush and now runs it. They have made a lot of great improvements in the last few years. I think it would be refreshing to have this kind of ownership, driven by a love for skiing, running any ski resort. But of course the bottom line is $$ infusion.
hockeydave
April 16, 2007
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
That guy sounds like the person who just bought a ski resort just 15 miles south of Laurel Mountain... Bob Nutting. I wonder if that family might consider operating Laurel Mountain. The Dupres did it for 1 year. If someone would get Mr Nutting over to Laurel and give him a tour of the existing infrastructure and terrain, he might at least consider it.

On a separate rant, I guess there is one word that really sums up why I think Laurel probably won't open this year and possibly for a long time to come: APATHY. This is my list of apathetic entities wrt Laurel:

1) Local politicians - There is a reason why Western PA continues to lose population. We have incompetent/inept people in government trying to maintain the status quo. They continue to blame the decline of the steel industry (beginning 30 years ago and ending 25 years ago) as to why Western PA is losing population. They fail to see Laurel (not only the ski resort but the entire state park) as a regional asset that can generate seasonal jobs and add to the quality of life. But as long as they have their cushy job in Harrisburg, why bother with attempting to improve the quality of life for those who remain behind here in backwards/backwoods Western PA.
2) DCNR - I know the local park ranger champions Laurel's cause, but in general, what has the DCNR done in helping Somerset Trust sell/lease the existing assets? Have they contacted the Mellon family about removing the lodging restrictions? Have they considered making Laurel more than just a Winter resort? Mountain bikers rant & rave about Laurel Mountain and Linn Run, but I personally have not noticed one sign or advertisement indicating that Laurel/Linn Run is a mountain biker's haven? People sort of just discover the beauty of Laurel & Linn Run state park instead of it being made common knowledge by the DCNR. I look at Rocky Gap state park in Maryland as a model for turning a rather unused state park into a regional asset.
3) Residents and business owners of Ligonier and surrounding communities - It amazes me how many people I speak to from Ligonier that have never skied Laurel. They would rather drive 35 minutes to Seven Springs than 15 minutes to Laurel. Granted Seven Springs has much more terrain open, but not to ski a hill (and a very challenging one at that with Lower Wildcat) in your backyard once or twice a year just to offer token support is unconscionable. Some of these people own businesses in Ligonier and surrounding areas and can't see the financial benefit that comes from having Laurel open. And speaking of people with financial resources, there are plenty of Ligonier residents with boat loads of money. Just drive around state roads 381 and 711 and take a look at their estates/compounds. Where are they? I'm not pretending to tell them what to do with their money, but why can't they be good stewards and help reopen Laurel with a grant or two? Are you listening Mellon family or are you too busy riding your horses (probably high ones) and hunting poor defenseless home grown foxes, ducks & pheasants with VP Cheney?
4) Laurel Mountain Village residents - I am almost certain there are only a handful of residents, both fulltime and part-time, who really give a rat's A$$ about Laurel, but yet they are the first to complain about the Village roads or the general state of the Village. Myopia is a chronic ailment in Western PA and I think those that live above 2500 ft are affected even more. Just think if the resort took off. It makes their property more valuable. If the ski area became a success, someone might actually take an interest in the Village, see it for the rough gem it is, fix what's broken and enhance it. But as long as the Village residents sit idly by and don't at the very least contact their local reps, they get what they deserve... pot holed, un-paved, ravaged from nature roads and a substandard water/sewage system.
5) People like me - I complain a lot (see above), but besides attending a meeting or two or commiserating with like-minded others and occasionally writing my local reps, I've done nothing.

I'm beginning to believe there truly are very few people that really care about Laurel and I'm just one of a very few lone voices out there in the wilderness. But why shouldn't Laurel meet with the same fate as the many other industries in Western PA? I would like to think it is not a fait accompli that Laurel will die as a ski resort. But I believe time is running short.
Scott - DCSki Editor
April 16, 2007
Member since 10/10/1999 🔗
1,142 posts
I have never had a chance to ski at Laurel Mountain, and I would love to see the ski area reopen. But looking at the broader economics of the mid-Atlantic ski region, I am not sure it would be financially viable, unless there was a way to transform Laurel Mountain into a thriving year-round resort.

The sad reality is that many ski areas in this region seem to bank most of their revenue (and hopefully some profit) almost entirely from weekends, and there aren't that many weekends in a season. Particularly for the "day areas," over the past few years you can visit midweek and it's almost a ghost town, even when conditions are ideal. With such finicky weather, it's quite possible to wipe out several good weekends, which can take a huge financial hit on the bottom line. (January was pretty much a bust this year, and I'm sure visits were way down over the holiday week and MLK weekend, normally quite profitable times for ski areas.)

I know of many skiers from this region who used to visit local areas regularly, but stopped doing so entirely after El Nino hit a number of years ago. Now they focus their skiing dollars on one or two big trips out west, where the snow is (generally) consistently good through the whole season. Out of the past ten years, there haven't been too many "banner" years. Perhaps this is caused by climate change, perhaps not, but it leaves an indelible mark on skiers and little by little, the mid-Atlantic region loses skiers. And, longer-term, climate change will probably not be kind to mid-Atlantic winter sports.

Thankfully, we are blessed with a wealth of great ski areas within a day's drive -- over 30. But with visits trending down, that's less skier visits for each area.

I've been working on DCSki Lost Ski Areas for awhile now (thanks to the help of a lot of readers serving as valuable historians), and I'm struck by how many ski areas there once were in this region -- we've uncovered over 30 lost areas in Pennsylvania alone! Few of these areas were on the scale of Seven Springs or Snowshoe, and the capital requirements of running a ski area back then surely do not approach the costs today. (And it was probably less common for folks to hop on a plane back then to go on a western ski trip, something that is more economical and practical today, so there was a big market for local hills then. Many were just that: hills.) But this is a fickle area, and one of the lessons I seem to be drawing is that it takes deep pockets and perseverance for local ski areas to thrive. They have to be prepared to weather several bad seasons in a row, and come out the other side ready to try again. Because a ski resort is really a long-term investment: you might not make a profit each and every year, while you wait for the season that brings ample cold temperatures and plentiful snow from Thanksgiving into late March. (Remember those seasons? They're nice!)

I believe this is what hurt Laurel Mountain after it reopened. Instead of a banner year, the first year suffered from finicky weather, and that's not good when you have loans to make payments on. Had the weather been ideal, the story could have been very different. The story is similar with Whitetail: the first few years were banner years, and the original Japanese investors continued to pump money into the resort, probably thinking that was the status quo. Then El Nino hit. The exact terms of Whitetail's sale were never disclosed (to my knowledge), but it's a fair guess that the original investors were not making much profit after making the loan payments, and that Snow Time probably got a pretty good deal. The costs of opening Whitetail were huge -- it was the first area in the region to have a high-speed quad, for example. At one point there were plans on the drawing board to aggressively expand the terrain at Whitetail, adding trails in between existing ones and running them off the backside of the mountain. Given the realities of the mid-Atlantic ski market today (and the difficulty resorts have had in some years to cover even 100% of their terrain with snow), that expansion plan seems to have little viability today.

These are some of the reasons why I have concerns about the options for reopening Laurel Mountain. I don't believe it's enough to raise money to run Laurel Mountain for one season; because what if that season is a bust? All of the investors will have lost their money, and then what about the next season?

I don't see Seven Springs purchasing Laurel Mountain either, because they already tried operating Laurel Mountain for one season, and if they saw it as worthwhile and potentially profitable, wouldn't they have continued that arrangement? My understanding is that they had no interest in continuing past the first season. (But correct me if I'm wrong.) Seven Springs is a different beast entirely; it is a year-round resort with a strong real estate base and lots of revenue generators. They can certainly focus their efforts on areas such as building a water park, etc.

If you look at some of the most successful areas around here (and elsewhere), their profit doesn't really come from skiing directly, but rather the joys of real estate. For example, you can make a nice profit selling condos to property owners, and then continue making a nice profit as those properties are placed in the lodging program. Not a bad business model. You still need to attract "butts to beds" as one ski industry official told me (apologies for the gruff term), and the best areas do that year-round through skiing, mountain biking, festivals, concerts, etc.

The best hope for Laurel Mountain is probably a patient, deep-pocketed investor who can generate additional revenue opportunities than skiing alone. But based on the realities of Laurel Mountain (e.g., inability to build slopeside lodging, etc.), I don't know if that's possible. And I'm certain that many of us would not like Laurel Mountain going in that direction, anyway. That would take the "magic" away. Bear in mind, too, that nearby Hidden Valley Resort has also been on the market. When two out of three houses on the street are for sale, I'm guessing that raises eyebrows among potential investors.

I have seen a lot of passion for Laurel Mountain and I hate to sound negative, but I am worried about the long-term viability of mid-Atlantic ski areas and I'm struggling to think of a way that Laurel Mountain could be re-launched in a self-sustaining way. But there are smart people out there, and one should never give up hope. I'm still not prepared to move Laurel Mountain from "Resort Profiles" to "Lost Ski Areas."
rjsherrin
April 16, 2007
Member since 09/28/2005 🔗
145 posts
I was told by Tyson that they had a good offer but that it couldn't be finalized until February. I was also told from another source that a John Brady bought it and was going to bring in inspectors to get the lifts operating ASAP. I didn't see any Laurel posts and figured the sale was completed. I am still very interested and looking at other routes to get it going.
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
April 16, 2007
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,859 posts
Scott, you hit the proverbial nail on the head but that's just one nail. I wonder how many skiers stopped skiing locally not because of a decade or so of changing weather. My interest in local skiing waned when the local terrain ceased to be challenging. For me that means steeper terrain and natural tree runs on sustained pitch. I still can't ski icy moguls on intermediate terrain very well. I know it'll make me a better skier but as they say at TGR,"Bumps are nature's way of saying too many people have been here."

The entire ski market has been stagnant for years and only sustained itself with the influx of new boarders over the last 20 years. Is there any correlation between the closure of so many local ski areas and the decline of new skiers? How popular would golf be if you had only 1 or 2 courses within a 2 hour drive? Gone are the local areas that the kids can get to after school and the family can easily get to on the weekend. These places feed the large regionals like Laurel, Wisp, and Seven Springs. These in turn feed Stowe and Aspen and Sun Valley. Yes it was a different time. Travel was more expensive, certainly not as convenient. Snow seemed more abundant and challenge could still be found locally. The industry changed and focused on real estate and high end restaurants, hot tubs, clubs and chic retail villages. Still, not all of us can afford one or two big trips out west or could be compelled to travel more than an hour or so to try out a new sport. The ski industry has become gentrified and content with serving the patrons that can afford their product but the sport is dieing at the root.

Laurel can not compete in such a market. What Laurel has that most other Mid-Atlantic areas don't is true expert terrain and intermediate terrain with a sustained pitch, no flat spots. What Laurel has and other places have lost is a personality, a sense of space, a connection with the living history and heart of skiing. Skiing Broadway as it rambles, narrows and rolls with the contours of the land passed the Midway cabin you can feel Hannes Schneider's vision under your feet. To stand at the top of Lower Wildcat and see the trail just disappear at a white horizon line with the valley below prepares you for the most difficult in bounds terrain you find anywhere in this nation. Slip into the mature trees along trail edge, venture a little deeper in, where the risk managers fear and experience the singular challenges of one person, one mountain and the pull of gravity over nature's offerings and you've fallen in love for life. Laurel can only be what it is, a no frills, challenging mountain. Surely there is a niche for this.
fishnski
April 16, 2007
Member since 03/27/2005 🔗
3,530 posts
You Sold me! I hope to ski Laurel one day...& MPC of course! Sometimes you just wish that you could level some existing areas so we could resurect & Consruct the best Mtns the area has to offer. Its a shame that a better MT like laurel stands still while others of less quality keep running. One of the main arguments agains't MPC is the fact that the MT would feed off of the existing areas....Being a lot less articulate than you, all I can say is..That Sucks!
snosnugums
April 16, 2007
Member since 04/10/2006 🔗
126 posts
It would seem that Laurel Mt. would be the perfect resort for Snowtime to take over. They don't rely on real estate sales to fuel their business. They make money off of the skiing and the $8 hamburgers.
Canaan Valley is operated by a company that has a contract with the State of West Virginia. The contracts were competively bid and they were the 'high bidder' . I would suggest that the State of PA should put out a request for proposals which require the operator to make improvements and provide revenue to the state if the operation is profitable. I am surprised the the brain dead government officials hadn't considered that already. WV has contracts with various companies to operate their state park lodges. The National Park services does the same thing. New Hampshire has several state owned ski area which are operated by private companies. What are they waiting for????
To be honest, the likely hood that you'll find 400 folks to fork out $1,000 is somewhere between slim and none. So I would suggest that we contact the governor's office and the local government representatives to get off their keisters and start getting something going. The ski area is an important economic engine which generates tax revenue, jobs, room-nights, restuarant visits, etc.
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Scott - DCSki Editor
April 16, 2007
Member since 10/10/1999 🔗
1,142 posts
First, I want to say that Laurel Hill Crazie's post was extremely eloquent and demonstrates how strongly people would like to see Laurel Mountain succeed. Exceptionally well put.

Snow Time does make most of their money the "old fashioned way" (lift tickets, food, and related services), but their ski areas are also strategically located within 90 minutes of Baltimore/D.C., so they're going for day skiers and volume. I have justified "swinging by" Whitetail on the way home from work on many occasions (and by "swinging by," I mean going to work for half a day and then heading to Whitetail, the opposite direction of home, then coming back that night). Whitetail's proximity allows me to do this; I wouldn't be able to do this with Laurel Mountain, Seven Springs, Wisp, etc. A big draw of Liberty, Roundtop, and Whitetail is location, location, location.

But Laurel Mountain does differentiate itself in many ways, as Laurel Hill Crazie eloquently puts it, so by focusing on the bare basics and keeping costs down, Laurel Mountain could carve its own succesful niche. It will still take a risky investment to get things off the ground, and a person or company that is willing and able to stand by their investment for the long-term. The big test, I think, is what happens if the first year of operation is a crummy season.
snowsmith - DCSki Supporter
April 17, 2007
Member since 03/15/2004 🔗
1,367 posts
Scott - I agree, Laurel Hill Crazie should have been a journalist (or maybe he is one). I know your the editor of DCSKI but don't forget that LM is within an hours drive of Pittsburgh, not DC and Baltimore. It is also reasonably close to Johnstown. Thus your relating the mountains location to the wrong market. LM would be more of a weekend destination for the Balto/Wash crowd, I agree.
Scott - DCSki Editor
April 17, 2007
Member since 10/10/1999 🔗
1,142 posts
That is true, I sometimes forget Pittsburgh. Although the D.C. metro area has a higher population of skiers/boarders to draw from, Pittsburgh is a very big market too. My comments were more geared towards why Snow Time would probably not be interested. By focusing on one major market Snow Time is able to achieve some economies of scale. For example, they do a lot of combined marketing for all three resorts, such as radio spots that advertise Liberty, Roundtop, and Whitetail, as well as joint discount cards and season passes. Over the years Snow Time has been focused on improving Liberty and Roundtop, and picking up Whitetail was probably irresistible given its location and financial circumstances. Other than that, Snow Time has not shown an eagerness to expand ownership to other areas (and, in fact, divested New York's Ski Windham, the only other ski area it owned, in 2005.) So I don't see Snow Time being a likely suitor for Laurel Mountain, but nothing would surprise me.
therusty
April 17, 2007
Member since 01/17/2005 🔗
422 posts
Scott,

Remember that Snowtime used to own Windham and they did put a bid in on Montage. I heard that the only reason why Windham was sold was that Snowtime was offered a premium price. Laurel would not be out of the question based on location alone.

From the unofficial numbers that I've "heard", Snowtime paid less than 50 cents on the dollar for Whitetail's original owners had invested (counting the original cost and operating losses until the bank took over).

I've seen the original master plan map of the resort.I don't recall seeing any trails on the "backside", if by that you mean behind the top of the high speed. Most of the trail expansion was in the bowl between Snowpark and Fanciful. It's my understanding that the original Whitetail partnership still owns the real estate operation, but that the land uphill of the existing real estate bordering the access road and the south side of SnowPark/Stalker is owned by Snowtime. If Snowtime was to develop all of this land for snowsports usage, the development cost would have to include snowmaking, lodge space and parking expansion as well. Given the prospect of global warming, I know what I would do with this property instead.
jimmy
April 17, 2007
Member since 03/5/2004 🔗
2,650 posts
Quote:

From the unofficial numbers that I've "heard", Snowtime paid less than 50 cents on the dollar for Whitetail's original owners had invested (counting the original cost and operating losses until the bank took over).






That's still an unanswered question, how much will they take for what? There are maybe 700 building lots in the village, sewage problems bad roads; 30% snowmaking, decent lodge the lifts are ok and the terrain is so sweet. There should be a way to make this work.
RobertW
April 17, 2007
Member since 10/14/2004 🔗
199 posts
Another possible buyer might be Peak Resorts. Until recently (they just closed on Mt. Snow/Attitash), they specialized in smaller funky resorts in Missouri (Hidden Valley, Snow Creek), Indiana (Paoli Peaks), Ohio (Mad River, Boston Mills, Brandywine), Pennsylvania (Big Boulder, Jack Frost) and Crotched Mountain in southern New Hampshire. Crotched was rescued from lost status a few years ago and I have kept on their mailing list. It's hard to get a good feeling for an area without visting but they seem to be very skier oriented (early opening, late closing, all night skiing etc). When they buy in, they invest heavily on infrastructure and seem to have made good operating resorts in the "Banana Belt". They might be a good fit.
tromano
April 17, 2007
Member since 12/19/2002 🔗
998 posts
Quote:

That is true, I sometimes forget Pittsburgh. Although the D.C. metro area has a higher population of skiers/boarders to draw from, Pittsburgh is a very big market too. My comments were more geared towards why Snow Time would probably not be interested. By focusing on one major market Snow Time is able to achieve some economies of scale. For example, they do a lot of combined marketing for all three resorts, such as radio spots that advertise Liberty, Roundtop, and Whitetail, as well as joint discount cards and season passes. Over the years Snow Time has been focused on improving Liberty and Roundtop, and picking up Whitetail was probably irresistible given its location and financial circumstances. Other than that, Snow Time has not shown an eagerness to expand ownership to other areas (and, in fact, divested New York's Ski Windham, the only other ski area it owned, in 2005.) So I don't see Snow Time being a likely suitor for Laurel Mountain, but nothing would surprise me.




My feeling after being a season pass holder at 7Springs for 3 years is that the break down for where their skiers are from is something like this:

70% Pittsburgh area and locals
15% DC / Baltimore area
15% Eastern Ohio, WV, etc...

If Laurel is going to succeed as a day skiing venue it needs to be based on day skiers from Pittsburgh much more so than attracting DC area skiers.
imp
April 21, 2007
Member since 01/11/2007 🔗
238 posts
the slopes at Laurel were laid out by Hanas Schneider in 1937 or 38 according to when he was in the area.
many of those slopes are not now open for skiing and some are not in the park area.
bad business plans, bad use of resourses and not the best weather have plagued the place since the Laurel Lodge burned.
last group misplaced the lodge by 100 ft.
The place will work it just needs some real backers.

imp
JohnL
April 21, 2007
Member since 01/6/2000 🔗
3,518 posts
Quote:

last group misplaced the lodge by 100 ft.




Are you saying it should be closer to the parking lots? Or further down the hill?
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
April 21, 2007
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,859 posts
Quote:

I was told by Tyson that they had a good offer but that it couldn't be finalized until February. I was also told from another source that a John Brady bought it and was going to bring in inspectors to get the lifts operating ASAP. I didn't see any Laurel posts and figured the sale was completed. I am still very interested and looking at other routes to get it going.




I think all of us who are hoping and willing to get Laurel open were lulled into false hope that a private buyer was at hand. I think we all know that a private buyer is ideal. Snowtime or Peak Resorts may fit the bill if they do indeed make their money selling lift tickets, rentals, lessons and lunch. I hope the DCNR will go a calling at their corporate doors and entice them in. I hope they go to Bob Nutting and entice him in. Since none of that has happened yet, I'll say right here that I have $1000.00 I'm willing to place into escrow for the formation of a co-op corporation. If we can't raise $400,000 by November, reimburse the funds or decide what to do then.

Thank you Scott for the kind compliment but really, words follow passion quite easily. Make no mistake it is our sport and places like Laurel that feed my feelings and inform my prose. For the record, I'm not a journalist or a writer of any sort. I'm a skier, a Pittsburgher, a Steelers fan and a union card carrying steelworker in addition to my most important roles; husband and father to a skiing family. I really think that the survival of places like Laurel is important for generating future snow sport participants. It's important to preserve the natural environment and heritage of our sport because in the end when the dining is done and the purchases are made and the party over, it is the appeal of outdoor recreation that really brings us back.

Quote:

the slopes at Laurel were laid out by Hanas Schneider in 1937 or 38 according to when he was in the area.
many of those slopes are not now open for skiing and some are not in the park area.
bad business plans, bad use of resourses and not the best weather have plagued the place since the Laurel Lodge burned.
last group misplaced the lodge by 100 ft.
The place will work it just needs some real backers.
imp




imp, I never knew that were more trails from that early era. I thought the ski area blossomed below the Midway Cabin and grew up mountain via Broadway when the original Laurel Lodge was built around 1940. Can you describe where the abandon trails ran? JohnL, I think that imp means that the new Laurel Lodge should have been place 100 feet lower where the original stood. The trails and slopes flow much more naturally from there. imp did you know that okb1 talked to Guy at Seven Springs and he confirms that Laurel predated Seven Springs by two years having open by the Rolling Rock Club in 1932?

In conclusion, Laurel is far from gone but it can slip away fast. Are there people on this forum willing to help with expertise and money?
skier219
April 21, 2007
Member since 01/8/2005 🔗
1,318 posts
Quote:

Are there people on this forum willing to help with expertise and money?




You can count me in for any required mechanical engineering services.
hockeydave
April 22, 2007
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
Count me in for $2000, $1000 for me and $1000 for my wife
imp
April 22, 2007
Member since 01/11/2007 🔗
238 posts
the lodge needed to be up hill closer to the old milkhouse so you could ski from the double to the innsbruck side. Putting it where the original Laurel House was made access impossible.
Old trails go below the quad chair and off to the right side there are still old rope tow wheels in the trees down there. other slopes were from broadway down to the crossover/deerpath trail which was at one time a ropetow line.
imp
bawalker
April 22, 2007
Member since 12/1/2003 🔗
1,547 posts
Count me in for the $1000 deposit as well as expertise at the I.T. systems handling everything from PC's doing ticket window sales, to the servers, office PC's, handling the business side of it. Including any possible business management and what I like to think being a bit of 'woodsman' expertise at trail maintanence and design. Then again we *ALL* on here have that in us.
rjsherrin
April 22, 2007
Member since 09/28/2005 🔗
145 posts
Count on me for $2000 to $5000 and I will help with accounting. I am a cpa with experience in both profit and non profit organizations. We need to have some equity for the State Parks to talk to us. To receive grants, a non profit is probably the best route.
hockeydave
April 25, 2007
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
I'm guessing that the number of visits to this website have significantly decreased during the past few weeks now that ski season is over. However, given that there have been nearly 2000 views to this thread and only a handful of people have stepped forward with a pledge of talent and/or treasure, it only confirms my suspicion that most people really don't care whether or not Laurel reopens. Laurel Hill Crazie wonderfully put into words what so many of us feel. I truly feel sorry for those who may never get a chance to ski Laurel. I want to thank George Mowl, the previous operator of Laurel who reopened the resort after being closed for 10 years. He gave me a chance to ski the Classic and enjoy the experience of skiing a wonderful hill. I only hope that I and many others get another chance to ski it again.
snowsmith - DCSki Supporter
April 26, 2007
Member since 03/15/2004 🔗
1,367 posts
I did not have a chance to ski LM, but I did visit the place and it looked very interesting. Most of us do skiing for recreation, to escape reality. Having to worry about investing $2,000 in a risky venture is not my idea of recreation. I would love to see the ski area re-open and I think the only way that is going to happen if the State publically advertises the ski area for long term lease. Just like Canaan Valley and other publically owned ski areas throughout the USA. That would involve someone getting off their duff at the State to actually initiate this type of venture. Unless, you folks push for that, it's not going to happen soon, I would suggest. If you folks can get this ski area going as a coop, more power to you, but I do not believe you'll find enough folks who want to part with $2,000 given the risk.
rjsherrin
April 26, 2007
Member since 09/28/2005 🔗
145 posts
The problem is that Somerset Trust has the long term lease on the land. The State signed with them and as long as they stay current, there is not alot the State can do. I give George credit for all he did to try and make a go of it. The bank wants some of their money back so they want to look for a good buyer. We have a catch 22. It can't have hotels or condos near it. There are no building permits given out in the Village. It is a stand alone resort that needs to make enough in 3 months to support it for the year. I hate to say it but I'm starting to think of it as good memories.
imp
April 27, 2007
Member since 01/11/2007 🔗
238 posts
actualy Somerst Trust only has the movable assets, there is no lease at this time or at least not a guarantee of the state permiting a buyer of the assets getting an operating lease.
rjsherrin
April 30, 2007
Member since 09/28/2005 🔗
145 posts
That sounds good to me. I hope your right. Last fall I was told by someone with the state that Somerset Trust had the lease. The state owns the double chair and land. They said they wouldn't pull the lease. This is why I keep trying to work with Somerset Trust. Somerset Trust offered to give me a one season lease at a good price but it was to late in the year to do a chair inspection.
hockeydave
April 30, 2007
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
At the end of the day, it is in the best interest of the Somerset Trust to get the ski area reopened. Obviously selling the assets is an option, but it's going to be hard to move the lodge anywhere. And if Somerset Trust decides to sell the movable assets, they're still stuck with the Laurel Mountain Village lots. So getting the ski area reopened is sort of like getting a used car running reliably; it can only enhance the resell value, not only of the ski area assets, but the LMV lots. Tyson Cook is a bright guy and I truly believe he and Somerset Trust are committed to selling those assets to keep Laurel Mountain Ski area alive. Because if they weren't committed to keeping the ski area alive, they would have sold those movable assets as soon as they assumed them and made a deal to sell the lodge to the state.

I believe the only way Laurel is to reopen this upcoming ski season is if the state takes an active role immediately and helps Somerset Trust sell or lease the assets. I believe the people at the DCNR in Harrisburg as well as the local politicians (county commissioners of Westmoreland & Somerset counties, state reps and state senators, and yes, even the governor) have to step forward and take a much more active role. They have to realize that promoting state park activities, especially in the winter, should be a focus due to the economic activity it brings to the surrounding communities of Ligonier, Latrobe, Laughlintown, Somerset, Jennerstown, & Boswell just to name a few towns. There is plenty of money to build new arenas and stadiums in the state (5 at last count and soon to be 6). Why can't just a small fraction of that money be earmarked for state parks? I've got a theory why... it's called votes. A heck of a lot more people care about the Pittsburgh Penguins and all of PA's sports teams than for a small state park in the Laurel Highlands. Maybe a few of us can make it happen. But in my opinion, more than just a few of us need to be heard. And unlike committing a pledge of $$$$ or talent, it takes nothing more than time to contact the decision makers in the state and tell them you would like to see Laurel reopened for this upcoming season.
The Colonel - DCSki Supporter
April 30, 2007
Member since 03/5/2004 🔗
3,107 posts
I have a question about the PA state officials having a real interest in reopening Laurel Mt. Ski Area.
Yes, it would provide a few jobs; but at the same time it would reduce the number of skiers going to either Seven Springs or Hidden Valley...and these owners and Buncher are much more "in" with the PA political scene. I suspect that an open Laurel would not really cut into Seven Springs business, but HV? Any chance negative politics could be playing a role?
The Colonel ;\)
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
May 16, 2007
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,859 posts


As I understand it, Somerset Trust can't just sell the moveable assets with the lease to operate the ski area. The new prospective buyers would have to seek a new lease with the state and be willing to assume the restrictions in place. In absence of a new operator Somerset is technically the lessee. They just can't transfer the lease. As Dave pointed out, Somerset is free to sell the assets to whoever cares to remove them. To their credit and our hope, they have not. Will they be willing to eat that lose or will they just opt out when a good offer is made for pieces or the whole? I think the most valuable asset they own are the HKD snowmaking towers, they would be the most easily sold. I hope someone had the foresight to secure those snowmakers. The quad chair will have some competition in the used chair market and the lodge would be expensive to move. Somerset stands to get the best offer from an operator that gains approval from the state. They are still trying, what choice do they have?

Now to get to Dave's point. What role is the DCNR taking in executing their obligation to utilize the land donated for specific snow sport use? Will they lead the effort by providing grants and a long term lease for an operator? Will they seek partnership with Robert Nutting and enlist Seven Springs' management to operate the resort? Will they talk to Snowtime? Will they contact the Melons and seek to alter the restrictions? Will they get back into the ski area business and run it as a State Park, the way it was originally intended? (Not likely) There already has been indications that they would be willing to work with a not for profit. We should continue in our effort to form a co-op. There should be continuing input from the public to encourage/guide DCNR's planning of Laurel's future. Forums and discussions like this should continue. Folks should contact the DCNR and voice their opinion. The more folk heard from the better. This should be a true gauge of public interest instead of an organized political effort. I'm not saying not to contact state politicians if you please. I'm sure that is worthwhile. I'm just saying that it's better to represent a true 'market' rather than being seen as a political movement. Is the distinction I'm trying to make clear? Also, by contacting the DCNR as park users we come across as clients rather than advocates in opposition and that opens the door for out of state users to express their concern.

I've posted here before that I hope the DCNR begins a comprehensive push to consolidate, develop and market the entire region's outdoor recreation opportunities as they've done with the Pennsylvania Wilds program in PA's northern tier Counties. I think that snow sport operations at Laurel Mountain should be a part of that program for the Laurel Highlands.

As for the Colonel's observations, they are valid questions. The short answer, yes a functioning Laurel could take from Hidden Valley's market share. There could be 'behind the scenes' political pressure but that would just be speculation on our part. It seems to me that an open Laurel would add to the region as a snow sport destination. We are talking about three distinct areas. As someone looking to spend a few days in the region wouldn't having a choice appeal to you? If you've only skied at one area wouldn't you be curious about the others and give them a try? All three serve different types of clients and Laurel could serve a more core sport cliental. Hidden Valley for me was always a stepping stone to larger resorts and an amenity to the resort home owners. Seven Springs is the region 'destination' resort that offers all the amenities that you would find at much larger NE or western resorts and they have just enough challenge to keep the core coming back. A functioning Laurel with 100% snowmaking may take some share from 7S unless there is some true expert pitches yet to be developed there (I don't think so). The tempting solution and perhaps the logical one is for all three areas to be brought under a single ownership and marketed as "Ski the Laurel Highlands" with interchangeable lift tickets and free shuttle service. Wouldn't that be something?
Scott - DCSki Editor
July 19, 2007
Member since 10/10/1999 🔗
1,142 posts
I know this thread hasn't been too active for a couple of months, but I received the following information from a knowledgeable source at Somerset Trust, with permission to post it to DCSki:

"... the lowest asking price quoted to any creditable operator to buy just the 'Resort' -- buildings, lifts, snowmaking and other equipment is in the range of an even million dollars. Another million and a half might buy the Village (lots) depending on the overall proposal."
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
July 19, 2007
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,859 posts
Scott, can you clarify the quote? Is this Somersets lowest asking price or is this an offer made to Somerset from a creditable operator?
Scott - DCSki Editor
July 20, 2007
Member since 10/10/1999 🔗
1,142 posts
I believe these are values the bank would consider as reasonable starting offers.
snowsmith - DCSki Supporter
July 20, 2007
Member since 03/15/2004 🔗
1,367 posts
A million dollars to buy an entire ski operation ...that seems pretty cheap. The construction cost of the facilities you are buying would probably far exceed that. Even middle class folks like us could almost come up with that money. Hell, a 4 bedroom house in the DC area sells for close to a million.
I have an idea, why not have DC SKI buy the resort. We'll take up a collection, have bake sales, raffles, etc. and soon we'll have a hefty down payment, get a mortgage and badabeem-badaboom...we'll own a ski resort. What do say Scott..we'll put you in charge of the resort website, Laurel Hill Crazy can be the director of skiing, the funny Jimmy guy can run the pub, and the other cast of characters on this web site can be liftees, burger slingers, snow makers, etc. We'll all quit our day jobs, divorce our wives, chase young ski babes, and just have a blast.

Whoops- I fell a sleep and had this weird dream....
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
July 21, 2007
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,859 posts


 Originally Posted By: snowsmith
..... We'll all quit our day jobs, divorce our wives, chase young ski babes, and just have a blast.

Whoops- I fell a sleep and had this weird dream....


and win the lottery while we're at it.
rjsherrin
July 21, 2007
Member since 09/28/2005 🔗
145 posts
MAD RIVER GLEN CO-OP FAQ
http://www.madriverglen.com/coop/?Page=.%2F3faq.htm&dir=.

CO-OP Bylaws
http://www.madriverglen.com/coop/?Page=.%2F5bylaws.html&dir=.

Here is some information on a co-op owned ski resort. With some large cities within driving distance to the slopes, a co-op may work. A CO-OP with bylaws set up like these may have a chance at the tax exempt status and grants available. The cost of the Assets present at the resort are considerable in regard to the price Somerset Trust will probably release them for. Is anyone good at marketing to get this out to the public and see if there is enough interest? I love the resort and don't want it as a memory.
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
July 21, 2007
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,859 posts

RJ, that's the model, the new holy grail. Who wants to sit on the board of directors? Most of us just want to ride our boards. All we need to do is raise 1.5 million and we be skiin' Laurel.

Bake sales and flea markets anyone?
rjsherrin
July 22, 2007
Member since 09/28/2005 🔗
145 posts
I would love to sit on the board of directors. I also think that we could find grants to absorb a large part of the 1.5 million.
hockeydave
August 16, 2007
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
Well, here we go again.

Besides the group of us who want to reopen Laurel as a not for profit operation starting '08-'09, I have confirmed from 2 different sources that there is at least 1 party who is very interested in the ski operations and possibly the Village lots.

Stay tuned, as a deal may happen soon (within the next 2 weeks). If something does happen, I fully expect the ski area not to open this year, but who knows.

It would be great to have 3 ski areas open in the Laurel Mountains with solid management in place at all of them.
snosnugums
August 16, 2007
Member since 04/10/2006 🔗
126 posts
Is there any speculation as to who the potential buyer is? Yes it would be great to have 3 ski areas to choose from. It would seem that there should be enough skiers to support all three. This is afterall the east coast megalopolis. What I have noticed is the successfull business have one or two aspects that make them work: 1) a quality product or 2) good marketing or 3) both. Laurel Mountain has the potential for 1) but has never had 2).
hockeydave
September 10, 2007
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
I noticed the following hyperlink does not work:

http://www.laurelmountainskipatrol.org/

Is the LM Ski Patrol officially disbanded? I hope not.
LMV
September 10, 2007
Member since 06/1/2005 🔗
60 posts
No, it's just an issue with the domain name. The site is still up at: www.laurelpatrol.org.

The patrol is still together, we just had our refresher on Saturday.
hockeydave
September 10, 2007
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
I received an email from Tyson Cook of Somerset Trust regarding the most recent attempt to sell Laurel's assets and he gave me permission to post it here:

"Unfortunately our most recent prospects have decided to withdraw their bid at this time. I don't believe that we're through in hearing from them, so we'll see what the future holds.

Fortunately we have never stopped working every and any lead in regards to the sale and therefore we still have 3 parties that are interested in the Mountain. Hopefully one of them will find it a perfect fit for what they're looking for.

We're doing our best to sell this thing..."

So the saga continues... what a nice combo Laurel and Hidden Valley would be for the Buncher Group. Laurel and the Village could be had for 15% of the sticker price they paid for HV with a lot more on-hill potential (no disrespect to HV intended).

Sorry, wishful thinking again...
Taylormatt
September 10, 2007
Member since 12/3/2004 🔗
339 posts
I was thinking the same thing. HV is, well lame as far as terrain is concerned, but it is top notch for families and beginners/those who want to learn. Buncher can make it the Deer Valley of PA without a doubt and LM would add the best terrain in the area to round it out. LM's ski terrain is far better than anything 7S has to offer, it just needs tons of updating in lifts and snow making. They could have it all with both properties...and it's very close to HV, much closer than 7S is to LM.

I understand Buncher wants to return mtn. biking to what it was at HV (which was very respectful, probably #2 in the area after LM) and LM has the BEST riding in Western PA, hands down. The other beautiful part? You can ride from one to the other right now with only a small section of fire road to pass. I hope they look hard at LM as an extension of HV.
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
September 11, 2007
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,859 posts
Oh yes, HV and Laurel would be an interesting fit. A paved road from Bakersville to Laurel via Hickory Flats and Laurel Summit Road would be about, what a 40 minute ride or less?

TM, since you've been biking there you've gotten to know the terrain at Laurel. Thanks for sharing the info. Sometimes I feel those of us that love Laurel are perceived as over hyping the place. The terrain is good and potential is just as great. All we need is some committed money and some folks to give the place a try when it re-opens.
Taylormatt
September 12, 2007
Member since 12/3/2004 🔗
339 posts
That's the route I take to LM, it's all of 12-15 minutes from the time I pass HV's gate to the picnic area. It's only 3.5 more miles to the resort, so 20 minutes tops. If Hickory Flats and Summit road were paved....probably 12-15 minutes total. Summit Road sucks with all it's holes and washouts.
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
September 15, 2007
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,859 posts
I just heard that Laurel was vandalized this last week by cooper thieves. SOBs on quads destroyed the wiring on the quad and did the same to the warming hut at the bottom of Wildcat. Estimated damage up to 10 grand. What a shame, I hope they catch the criminals.
Taylormatt
September 15, 2007
Member since 12/3/2004 🔗
339 posts
Meth heads will steal copper from anything anymore since it's easy money to recycle. A friends cabin at White Mtn. was gutted of copper, we had people stealing copper from our rolls at the phone company and have heard of many homes being built stripped of wiring/plumbing for a quick fix.

If they really want to catch these guys (which they don't) start recording all copper recycling like they do when you try to sell something at a pawn shop. You need ID to do it. You start selling a lot to recycle, you better be in the construction business to justify all the extra copper each week.
hockeydave
November 19, 2007
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
From the Johnstown Tribune Democrat...

http://www.tribune-democrat.com/local/local_story_322233245.html

The following quote was taken from the article...

 Quote:
"People have approached us about it," confirmed Thomas J. Balestrieri, CEO of The Buncher Co., a Pittsburgh developer that last week unveiled plans for a $1 billion, three-decade expansion at Hidden Valley.

Balestrieri said Buncher is considering Laurel Mountain more as a community service, not competition for Hidden Valley or nearby Seven Springs.


IF, and I do mean IF, Buncher does operate Laurel next year, why would they not treat it as a true partner of Hidden Valley because of the better netural terrain at Laurel. The 2 resorts paired together would surely be stiff competition for 7 Springs (forcing 7 Springs to continually better themselves).
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
November 19, 2007
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,859 posts
Great news indeed, I hope this deal flies and we'll all be skiing Wildcat next season. That this story is breaking now instead of being announced on Thursday with Hidden Valley news and the statements made by the DCNR concerns me:

 Quote:
"We will not be opening the ski area this season," said Chris Novak, spokeswoman for the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

While Somerset Trust has been trying to find a concessionaire to operate Laurel Mountain, the state has final approval.

"None of those agreements are in place," Novak said.


I'd hate to think that the DCNR is the road block to the deal. Now that would truly be senseless.
Edgar3
November 20, 2007
Member since 05/29/2007 🔗
149 posts
I wouldn't read into the fact that there was no acnnouncement along with the HV master plan announcement. Buncher is in a stronger position to negotiate a deal re LM by announcing their plans and capturing everyone's imagination.

Also, see separate news release that states that both HV and 7S have been contacted to operate HV, so it looks like this was prompted by the powers that be at LM:

http://www.wjactv.com/news/14640901/detail.html

For either resort would benefit from the greater vertical at LM, but would think that HV could benefit the most due to more limited existing terrain, closer location, and especially ability to run shuttle bus route with perhaps stops at HV, the proposed Paradise Springs in Bakersville, and LM.

Also, on a separate note there was an article in the Johnstown Paper that Buncher just picked up another 86 acres along Gartner Road just this week. This is on the opposite side of GArtner Road from the game preserve and they claim to have bought it just as a buffer area.
jb714
November 20, 2007
Member since 03/4/2003 🔗
294 posts
Also, if you view the video on WJACTV.com, the HV representative (Balestrieri - sorry if I've butchered the spelling) says something along the lines of "....it's something we may look into after the holidays". I viewed the video last night, so I'm doing this from memory, but it sounded at least mildly promising.
hockeydave
November 20, 2007
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
The WJAC-TV article stated that both Hidden Valley & 7 Springs have been contacted about operating Laurel. My take on that statement is that the state of PA, in their vast and infinite wisdom, is waiting for an announcement from Scott Bender or Bob Duppstapt over at 7 Springs that after much introspection & soul searching, 7 Springs has long last decided not to operate Laurel. Remember, the last official statement from 7 Springs management is that they continue to talk to the state and Somerset Trust about operating Laurel. Until that announcement is made by 7 Springs, the state will continue to wait for that white horse over in Champion to rescue Laurel.

All half kidding aside (I bet there are still people in Harrisburg that think 7 Springs will operate Laurel someday), I agree with Laurel Hill Crazie's supposition that some bureaucrat(s) at the state level is probably slowing progress. If in fact that is the case, I hope some state rep or even congressman (John Murtha) steps in very quickly to rectify the problem. Buncher is planning on spending $1,000,000,000 over the next 30 years in and around Hidden Valley, thereby making a tremendous economic impact on that relatively depressed area. If I were a state rep/senator in Somerset or Westmoreland county, I would do everything I could to ease the way for Buncher to expand their resort/real estate holdings in the Laurel Highlands because I see nobody else stepping up to the plate to operate Laurel and no other entity, probably including 7 Springs, that is going to infuse that much cash into the local economy over that timeframe.

But all in all, based on the newspaper and TV reports, all signs are pointing to Laurel being opened for skiing next year and in the end, that's all that matters to those of us who love Laurel.
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
November 20, 2007
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,859 posts
I'm really surprised that Seven Springs is getting a mention at all. I don't think that there has been any talks with Seven Springs for over a year now. I think that wjac was just following all leads and Seven Springs affirmed that they were approached about Laurel but failed to say that was a year ago. I hope their interest in Laurel is over, I never felt that they were all that sincere in operating Laurel but had ulterior motives.

I wish that Bender, Duppstapt and Nutting would just go away. I'm sure they have to be concerned that a well capitalized company will now give them some real competition. They've enjoyed a monopoly for quite sometime now. I wouldn't doubt that now that Buncher's interest has become public the 7S crowd is considering their options and moving to minimize the impact (kill the deal).
snosnugums
November 20, 2007
Member since 04/10/2006 🔗
126 posts
The Buncher's are developers. They did not buy Hidden Valley to start a ski resort empire. I think they bought it because its' sad condition would have adversely affected their resort property next door. While they have certainly spent some money fixing up HV, we're not sure at this time if this is a speculative venture meant to increase the property value so that a handsome profit can be made if they sell the place. Remember, they only spent $12 million to buy HV.
While I understand your passion for seeing LM opertate again, the real value for a developer like Buncher is the developable land next door to LM. If they can get the ski area packaged with the developable land, then it may be worthwhile to them as developers. They have also contracted a ski consulting business from Vermont that has been helping them getting HV up and running. Maybe these folks have looked at LM for Buncher and have provided an assessment of the investment involved in operating a successful and profitable ski area.
I think the one and only reason the Seven Springs operated LM was to curry favor for their gambling license application. It will take several years to build a customer base for the ski area and marketing to get folks on the slopes. Seven Springs knows that. If they really intended to operate the place they would have developed a business plan to get the place going in the right direction.
hockeydave
November 21, 2007
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
I admit I know very little about the Buncher Group, but all one has to do is look at their homepage and see that they are not strictly developers... railroad car parts recondition & sale, railroad car service, commercial real estate, resort development, hotel development & management. Seems like they are fairly diversified company to me. One way for companies to grow is to acquire or develop new business units.

I doubt they would shell out $12 million to buy HV and spend at least that amount in rehab work & capital improvements since acquisition. So if you look at it from that standpoint, they have paid at least $24 million to purchase HV. They also have put forth a 30 year plan to spend $1,000,000,000. These people seem to be the real deal and in it for the long haul.

WRT the Laurel Mountain Ski Area...
There are approximately 300, 1/3 to 1/2 acre lots for sale and available for development in the adjacent Laurel Mountain Village (sewage upgrades needed, water is no longer an issue).

The Buncher CEO stated in the Johnstown Tribune Democrat that they would run Laurel as a "community service". I'm not that naive to believe they will run Laurel at a loss ad infinitum, but an upgraded Laurel with the right business plan would do no worse than break even every year. Laurel partnered with HV would make a formidable tagteam in the Laurel Highlands against 7 Springs. I enjoy skiing 7 Springs during the week when I can, but I'm not the only one who refuses to go there on weekends because of the crowded slopes and frat house atmosphere. If Hickory Flats Road were paved & maintained, the commute from HV to Laurel would be about 10-15 minutes. Obviously the state would have to be on board for that to happen (don't ever count on that).

I agree that 7 Springs did not operate Laurel for that year as a "community service". But that's all in the past and hopefully a bright future awaits Laurel.
rjsherrin
December 3, 2007
Member since 09/28/2005 🔗
145 posts
Has anyone heard any more about the Laurel Mountain deal? I have been away and haven't heard anything.
hockeydave
December 3, 2007
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
I haven't heard a thing.
hockeydave
December 17, 2007
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
This was first posted in the Hidden Valley thread, but I think it makes sense to place it here too. From Johnstown's Tribune Democrat...

http://www.tribune-democrat.com/local/local_story_349233334.html
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
December 17, 2007
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,859 posts
From my post on Epicski:

The news articles fuel reason to be hopeful with this latest bid to open Laurel. Many deals have been rumored over the last year and a few suitors came close to tying the knot but got cold feet at the alter.

From the information in this article it seems that the obstacle to the deal lies with the DCNR (PA State Parks). Why else would commissioners from two counties lobby Michael DiBerardinis, head of the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources? It just seems to me that this type of communication between politicians and state bureaucracy wouldn't be happening unless the politicians were reasonably certain of the Buncher Co.'s interest.
gizmosnow
December 17, 2007
Member since 10/6/2005 🔗
269 posts
I, too, suspect that Buncher has more than just a 'passing' interest in LM. At the recent annual HV homeowners mtg, I went up to the Jack Johnson rep after the mtg and asked him if they (i.e., Buncher and Jack Johnson) felt they had enought 'ski slope' and 'golf course' to support the projected development. His direct answer to me was "more ski slope would be nice" ((Re: the golf course, he said that they anticipated that the 18 holes planned for paradise springs would also be accessible to HV residents/vacationers on some 'controlled' basis, and that would be more than adequate to support the combined development))

So, re: LM, while proximity may still be a serious issue under consideration, Buncher may well see LM as a potential solution to a long term concern!
skibum
December 18, 2007
Member since 12/3/2007 🔗
79 posts
the dcnr is the hold up.
hockeydave
December 18, 2007
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
If all of these rumors are true and Buncher does have more than just a "passing" interest in Laurel and they want to abide by the covenants of the land, but the state (DCNR) finds some way or some excuse to f' this up, HEADS SHOULD FREAKIN' ROLL!!! Buncher is THE White Knight so many of us have been hoping for.

But I'll remain positive that something good is going to happen until I hear otherwise. \:\)
jb714
December 18, 2007
Member since 03/4/2003 🔗
294 posts
 Quote:
but the state (DCNR) finds some way or some excuse to f' this up


As a native-born Pennsylvanian, and current land-owner in PA (cottage near Trent), I unfortunately have ample confidence that the PA gov't will find a way to screw this up. The Commonwealth of PA has not proven herself to be open to any idea that is of a vintage any more recent than approximately 1950. Just look at the unbelievable headaches that the Sheetz store chain has gone through in their attempt to sell beer by the 6-pack in Altoona.

Hopefully the DCNR will find a way to make this happen - let's all hope and pray for this to have a very positive ending.
hockeydave
December 18, 2007
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
As I have cited several times before, a perfect example of a public/private partnership that is working is Rocky Gap State Park in Maryland. I can only hope that the director of Pennsylvania's Bureau of State Parks, Mr John Norbeck, who was in the Maryland State Park system for 29 years prior to accepting a position in the DCNR, favors this type of public/private partnership.

The Johnstown Tribune Democrat article states that both Westmoreland & Somerset County commissioners have sent letters of recommendation to the DCNR voicing their support for Buncher to operate Laurel. I am assuming that state reps and senators have done likewise. I would also assume that these representatives have seen the terms and conditions of the proposed deal and have found them acceptable to the state. Therefore, in a representative commonwealth, the will of the people, voiced through their representatives, should be heard. One appointed bureaucrat should not be capable of blocking this deal, but hey, after all, this is Pennsylvania.
skibum
December 18, 2007
Member since 12/3/2007 🔗
79 posts
buncher went around dcnr strate to the governor the dcnr was not happy with this. so now thay are draging there feet.
Heather
December 18, 2007
Member since 02/24/2005 🔗
170 posts
Do you have this information from a reliable source? Hopefully the local guys from the DCNR can assist with this potential transaction. From my discussions with local DCNR, they want nothing more than to see Laurel open!
hockeydave
December 18, 2007
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
So if what you are stating is fact in true, what you're saying, skibum, is that DCNR Harrisburg is having the bureaucratic equivalent of a temper tantrum.
camp
December 18, 2007
Member since 01/30/2005 🔗
599 posts
 Originally Posted By: skibum
buncher went around dcnr strate to the governor the dcnr was not happy with this. so now thay are draging there feet.
Sounds like typical developer-county supervisor behavior. Of course the county politicians are in favor of any development. This doesn't sound much different from Fairfax County.

I for one am usually in favor of my PA state DCNR looking out for their (and my) interests. I like the way Laurel was run before, and the way the adjacent x-c center is run now. If they really are the holdup, hopefully DCNR will get it the way they want it. If not, I'll continue to work up a sweat at the end of each freshy run.
hockeydave
December 18, 2007
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
 Quote:
I for one am usually in favor of my PA state DCNR looking out for their (and my) interests. I like the way Laurel was run before, and the way the adjacent x-c center is run now.


Laurel being closed for downhill skiing in the winter and having an under-utilized state park in the summer (except for leaf watching in the fall) is not in my or many others interest.

I would prefer that Laurel be operated as it was in the past, however, there is not a long track record of business success with Laurel being operated in that manner. I hope the DCNR recognizes this and allows a private operator some flexibility in making changes that allows Laurel to make a profit while maintaining its natural charm.
skibum
December 19, 2007
Member since 12/3/2007 🔗
79 posts
turf war gov. come and go dcnr is he to stay
skibum
December 19, 2007
Member since 12/3/2007 🔗
79 posts
you are right laurel mt is the only mt with a soul around here
imp
December 21, 2007
Member since 01/11/2007 🔗
238 posts
There was a meeting on Monday between Buncher and the DCNR.
Buncher is asking for some changes in the lease structure with the state to allow both parties a clearer definition of their responsiblities.
The changes would not be precident setting or involved just different than the usual.
Get off your butts and do this

imp
hockeydave
December 21, 2007
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
Imp, remember this is the state where the last progressive initiative undertaken was building the PA turnpike (some 60 years ago). Always, always, always behind the curve when it comes to anything remotely different. Explains why the 2nd oldest population in the country resides here. Change is a 4 letter word here, unless, of course, palms get greased.

The covenants of the land the resort lies on forbid any residential development so I don't foresee any of the charm being lost if Buncher would take over; I can only foresee enhancement. Just ask the current residents and visitors to Hidden Valley. (Rumor has it the Mellons almost gave immediate approval to the Bunchers to operate Laurel)

It seems obvious to almost anyone with a half-brain that this is a deal that should happen. However, it still would not shock me if the DCNR in Harrisburg does not approve this deal.


Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
December 21, 2007
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,859 posts
I'm tempted to ask all to once again write to the DCNR head honchos to get the ball rolling but when we had that modest, impromptu e-mail campaign last year I heard that the boys in Harrisburg were none to pleased. Doug got accused of being the ring leader and the whole thing was dismissed as "fifty of his friends".

I don't want to be overly critical of the DCNR, they must often arbitrate seemly contradictory interest and safe guard our natural resources. I'm afraid that if we're not careful we could trigger a backlash.

My hope is that the DCNR will finally understand that we are genuinely interested in seeing Laurel succeed because it is an asset to the State and will serve the skiing public interest. Laurel's track record suggests that this is a risk and money and reputations are at stake. I think we all know that if Laurel were to re-open, it can't be a half hearted, underfunded effort. If it is to be a lift served alpine ski area then a commitment to make commercially necessary improvement is paramount.

I think the best we can do at this point is send our comments to
Doug Finger at dfinger@state.pa.us and let him take the case to his bosses.
JohnL
December 21, 2007
Member since 01/6/2000 🔗
3,518 posts
 Quote:
Doug got accused of being the ring leader and the whole thing was dismissed as "fifty of his friends".


I emailed Doug about Laurel Mountain (got the contact info from LHC.) I'm sure Doug is a nice guy, but I don't know him from Adam. I guess I'm now one of his fifty friends. Hey, kegger at Doug's this weekend... Maybe he can use his influence to get some Fat Tire east of the Missip.

On a serious note, I emailed Doug that if PA could open Laurel Mountain keeping most (can't expect all) of it's existing vibe, I'd buy some property there and would be a season's pass holder.

From the threads on this site, it sounds like PA politics is really messed up; even more so than you normally find at the state level.
Taylormatt
December 21, 2007
Member since 12/3/2004 🔗
339 posts
Mmmm...Fat Tire East of the Mississippi, now THERE'S a great idea!

I hope Buncher can get through the red tape and make this happen. It would be a shame to have terrain that good not operating in Western PA. We're bored with short and flat, give us steeper and lots of trees! Combine the skiing with the top notch mountain biking, hiking, snowmobiling, XC skiing, snowshoeing, kick ass golf nearby, etc and you've got the makings of a 4 season resort area and TONS of real estate development.
hockeydave
December 21, 2007
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
All that DCNR Harrisburg and Buncher needs to guage the amount of interest in Laurel is to check the amount of views on any thread on DCSki involving Laurel and... case closed.

Those of us who love Laurel don't want or need new houses, condos, slopeslide development, a frat party atmosphere, a microbrewery, or cafe lattes; all we want is an "Open for Skiing" sign on Laurel Summit Road.

Yo... DCNR.... Do the right thing!!!
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
December 21, 2007
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,859 posts
A microbrewery in Ligonier would be nice too ;\)
skibum
December 22, 2007
Member since 12/3/2007 🔗
79 posts
imp where is audies run at.? is it next to durrs drop at laurel?nsps 8860
Taylormatt
December 22, 2007
Member since 12/3/2004 🔗
339 posts
Unfortunately, you can't have it both ways. That's why it failed and is closed.
hockeydave
December 22, 2007
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
Yep, I sort of agree with you, but I really think there is a happy medium. Add some lodging (e.g. a scaled down version of the Log Cabin Motel in Donegal) just outside the ski area entrance with an attached sandwich/snack/coffee shop and that might due the trick. The existing ski lodge on site, IMHO, suffices. However, what really is needed at Laurel is additional snowmaking and a few more ways down the hill.
imp
December 22, 2007
Member since 01/11/2007 🔗
238 posts
Ski Bum
Audis run was Audi Ricter's favorite part of upper Dream, turn left instead of going to the goat path.
you drove the imp

imp
skibum
December 22, 2007
Member since 12/3/2007 🔗
79 posts
imp. now I remember . the goat path always fun looking forward to skiing next year when laurel reopen skibum
Taylormatt
December 22, 2007
Member since 12/3/2004 🔗
339 posts
 Originally Posted By: hockeydave
Yep, I sort of agree with you, but I really think there is a happy medium. Add some lodging (e.g. a scaled down version of the Log Cabin Motel in Donegal) just outside the ski area entrance with an attached sandwich/snack/coffee shop and that might due the trick. The existing ski lodge on site, IMHO, suffices. However, what really is needed at Laurel is additional snowmaking and a few more ways down the hill.




Unfortunately, the cost of snow making upgrades and new trails can't and won't be off set unless some real estate development and apres ski offerings are put in place.

It has to be a place that brings money in. While it would be great if the place could make money off just season pass holders and day trippers at say $30 a lift ticket...that, sadly, will not pay for the millions needed in snow making for our poor weather and millions in lifts and millions in terrain expansion, water holding for snow making, etc.

A scaled down version of the Log Cabin would be what? 6-7 rooms? What would that generate in revenue? Nothing.

To live, it will need to grow beyond what it was in the 70's and 80's. It doesn't need to be 7S, but it needs to grow to attract the dollars it needs to survive. BK is trying to retain that retro, never grow feel and look what's going on there...nothing. It's gasping for air.
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
December 23, 2007
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,859 posts
 Originally Posted By: imp
Ski Bum
Audis run was Audi Ricter's favorite part of upper Dream, turn left instead of going to the goat path.
you drove the imp

imp


Oh for a good snow pack and a foot of fresh, we'd follow that Goat for sure.

imp, where's Joe's Cut? Does it dump out on Dear Walk?
skibum
December 24, 2007
Member since 12/3/2007 🔗
79 posts
NOW is the time to e mail the dcnr ra-askdcnr@state.pa.us spread the word to all your ski friends this is our the last best hope if this deal fall thru it will be the end of laurel mountain. IT now or never skibum
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
December 24, 2007
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,859 posts
Ok skibum link them through here to the DCNR hot line:

askdcnr@state.pa.us


But I still think it would be best to send comments to:

dfinger@state.pa.us

Both will work.
imp
December 26, 2007
Member since 01/11/2007 🔗
238 posts
Joe's trail runs off broadway down to deer walk the trail that comes out at the bottom of Hegan's cut. It actualy goes clear down to the Deer Path but it takes three feet of snow to get over the rocks.
If Laurel opens I'll show you the steep stuff, we keep it well hidden.

imp
skibum
December 27, 2007
Member since 12/3/2007 🔗
79 posts
there is no if at laurel only when it will open !keep the the fath
hockeydave
December 27, 2007
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
Given Laurel's history and now that the fate of Laurel rests with the DCNR, "if" is a safer bet than "when". But I'm still hopeful.

Oh, by the way, "when" a Laurel reopening announcement is made, I propose a celebration get together for all DCSki Laurel supporters at the Outback John Harvards at HV. The first 8 pitchers of beer is on me!

And even if the DCNR does something stupid and rejects the Buncher offer, I think we should still get together at HV and thank Buncher for at least making the effort. Sad to say, but if this offer is rejected, it probably will spell the end of Laurel as a ski area.
skibum
December 28, 2007
Member since 12/3/2007 🔗
79 posts
keeping the fath in 08 skbum
skibum
December 29, 2007
Member since 12/3/2007 🔗
79 posts
Happy new year look like 80 hours of snow making then a warm up next weeks. next year we all ski laurel in 08 keep the faith
hockeydave
December 31, 2007
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
I spoke to 2 separate people who are fairly well connected to the Laurel scene this past weekend. By the end of March, the final prognosis for Laurel will be made; either dead and gone for good or alive and kicking. If this deal with Buncher falls thru, Laurel can be officially placed on the Lost Ski Area list. If the state rejects Buncher, I really can't foresee them allowing anybody else to operate Laurel and I can't see any other White Knight coming in to save Laurel given these recent goofy winters in the Mid Atlantic. Also, Somerset Trust can not hold onto those ski assets forever (nor the lots in the adjacent Village). Frankly, they have held onto them longer than expected (3 years). They will probably start selling stuff off and recouping anything they can from their loan.

Can you hear the clock ticking, DCNR?

The following is a link the PA DCNR Mission Statement...

http://www.dcnr.state.pa.us/info/ataglance/missionstatement.aspx

Examine the Partnership section. Based on what I read here, unless there is some confidentiality agreement, no matter what decision is made about reopening Laurel, the DCNR owes the public an explanation on why they have accepted or rejected the offer.
rjsherrin
January 1, 2008
Member since 09/28/2005 🔗
145 posts
Can anyone think of a reason why the DCNR would not jump at the idea of a group with plenty of equity taking over and making this the perfect ski resort? It seems that the people, the Buncher Group, and the Mellons want it to go. I would like the DCNR to tell the public what the problem is and get some input from the people who love the resort. Thats if there is a problem. If not, just say it will be open next year. We have approved it.
I hate to say it, but if Buncher is not allowed and no reason is presented, one of my first thoughts is whose pocket is padded.
Is there anyone with information to erase this thought?
snosnugums
January 1, 2008
Member since 04/10/2006 🔗
126 posts
Iwas told by a fairly reliable source that the Buncher have all but closed a deal to operate LM and that it would be added as an optional supplement to a Hidden Valley season pass next ski season.
skibum
January 1, 2008
Member since 12/3/2007 🔗
79 posts
imp is the person who we need to hear from he has good sources skibum
hockeydave
January 2, 2008
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
The deal is done... it is pending DCNR approval. What the holdup is is anybody's guess.

For all of those HV skiers who want an "optional supplement", please contact the local state reps and the DCNR and let them know you want Laurel reopened.
skibum
January 2, 2008
Member since 12/3/2007 🔗
79 posts
hockeydave i hope your are wirght. did you ever work at laurel? ski school? ski patrol?
hockeydave
January 3, 2008
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
Never worked at Laurel in any capacity. Know several people in the ski patrol. Started skiing there in 2000 and fell in love with it. I'm sorry I only got a chance to ski it a few years. George should be thanked for getting it reopened back in 99.

Wife & I have a small place in the Village. We bought it because we love the solitude the Village offers and the close proximity of the state park. Having the ski area reopened would be icing on the cake.

As far as the deal is concerned, whether or not Laurel reopens for skiing next year rests solely with the DCNR in Harrisburg. And if they don't allow this to happen, they owe the public a complete explanation why.

Again, please take 10 minutes to contact the state reps who represent that area (PM me if you want contact info)... the time you take may help get Laurel reopened. It seems to me that the county commissioners (Westmoreland & Somerset) are completely on board, but obviously they don't carry as much weight in Harrisburg as the state reps and senators.
skibum
January 3, 2008
Member since 12/3/2007 🔗
79 posts
I e mail the dcnr on monday this is a copy of what i sent It has been brought to my attention that there has been a new suitor showing a strong interest in Laurel Mountain Ski Area. A long time western PA skier and a frequent skier of Laurel Mountain I feel that this is a great asset to the region and would hate to see it lost.

With a new year coming please give the full weight of your consideration so Laurel Mountain Ski Area can be opened in the winter of 2008. It would be a tragedy if this ski area went away because of bureaucratic inertia. I understand your need to protect and preserve the trust that you've been charged with. Some arrangement is needed that is beneficial to all parties.


i hope many of my ski frends willtakr the time and do the same ski bum
yellowsnow
January 3, 2008
Member since 12/15/2005 🔗
270 posts
LOL, ok, but I'm sure you endeared yourself and your cause to them when you called them out on their bureaucratic inertia. j/k.
hockeydave
January 3, 2008
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
SkiBum.... Excellent!!!!
skibum
January 3, 2008
Member since 12/3/2007 🔗
79 posts
I don't know if I did any good or not with my e mail If the dncr get e mails from say 500 skier it cant hurt or cause. this is our last best chance . We cant just sit on our hands and do nothing . If you want a fine example of how skiing was in 40 50 and 60. And a piece of history to gust go away. just do nothing.! That old mountain has a soul . Any one who has skied there in the last 30 years know what I mean. that old mountain need to be preserved so the next generation of skiers can enjoy lower wild cat and try to imagine what it would be like to ski it on wooden skis with no metal edges ski bum
RobertW
January 3, 2008
Member since 10/14/2004 🔗
199 posts
Keep the pressure up. If Dave has not already brought it up, it is important that those of you who are not residents of PA also let them know that you will spend your ski dollars in PA if Laurel reopens. I have been writing to those Representatives on the Tourism and Recreational Development Committee, especially those in Westmoreland and Somerset Counties. Rep. Pallone is my local Rep here in Northern Westmoreland County and is chairman of the subcommittee on recreation. You could start there.

http://www.pahouse.com/committees/#46

It's easy. Most of them have nice easy web mail forms that you can cut and paste your letter into.

 Quote:
....that old mountain need to be preserved so the next generation of skiers can enjoy lower wild cat and try to imagine what it would be like to ski it on wooden skis with no metal edges ski bum


I don't go back that far but I do have memories of skiing LWC on narrow 220 cm skis with screwed-on edges with no snow making in the 70's. I hope to make a few new modern memories also.
skibum
January 4, 2008
Member since 12/3/2007 🔗
79 posts
good info dave thanks. ski bum
skibum
January 16, 2008
Member since 12/3/2007 🔗
79 posts
Has anybody got any news on laurel ?last news I have is the springs is now interested . And buncher has hired a lobbyist to make things move faster skibum
The Colonel - DCSki Supporter
January 16, 2008
Member since 03/5/2004 🔗
3,107 posts
I think you meant to say "HV is interested". If you really meant 7Springs is interested again, then I think this is new news to DCSki.
The Colonel \:\)
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
January 16, 2008
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,859 posts
I haven't heard any news but hockeydave and I have been sending out e-mails and flyers to interested folks urging them to contact the DCNR, state reps and the governor. I'm pretty sure that Buncher CO. hasn't 'hired' lobbyist but some of us certainly have taken it upon ourselves.
hockeydave
January 17, 2008
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
Having been away for the past week and a half, I am completely out of the loop wrt Laurel news. I seriously doubt that Seven Springs is interested. However, I would not put it past Harrisburg to have contacted Seven Springs about operating Laurel so that there is a "competitive" bid. If contact has been made with Seven Springs (or vice versa) in the recent past, I am completely unaware of it. Frankly, I hope Seven Springs just stays on the sideline when it comes to Laurel, because the best possible fit to operate Laurel has an offer sitting on DCNR Harrisburg's plate just waiting to be signed.

FYI: Over the past couple of weeks, a couple of state reps who represent the Laurel Mountain area have announced they are not running for reelection in '08 (Bob Bastian & Jess Stairs).
hockeydave
January 17, 2008
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
Prior to my departure for Whistler, I dropped off flyers in Laurel Mountain Village (the "mayor" and his wife are circulating them), the Furnace on US Route 30 (now offering Mexican cuisine) and Fat Daddy's in Ligonier. The Furnace and Fat Daddy's were very receptive to letting the flyers sit out because if Laurel is reopened they get more business. If anybody else wishes to circulate flyers around Western PA, please PM me and I'll email you a copy of the flyer. I plan on circulating some more this weekend in and around Ligonier.
rjsherrin
January 17, 2008
Member since 09/28/2005 🔗
145 posts
I hope Seven Springs is not approached. They had a chance, opened 1 season, and backed out. The Buncher group shows interest in both the Resort and Village. They seem to want to keep it like it is. Why is the DCNR going so slow? I can't figure it out. A company with the equity of Buncher, can take it on, fix it up, and have it running next year. They can wait for a return on investment. As I have said in the past, I wish the DCNR would let us know what is going on so we know weather to forget it or start planning for next year.
hockeydave
January 19, 2008
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
I was told by a VERY reliable source that negotiations are progressing favorably towards the end goal of reopening Laurel Mountain. Any contact with the state (reps & DCNR) should be done tastefully. He is very optimistic Laurel will be open for skiing next year.

However, patience will be required while waiting for an official announcement.
Ullr
January 19, 2008
Member since 11/27/2004 🔗
531 posts
 Originally Posted By: rjsherrin
I hope Seven Springs is not approached. They had a chance, opened 1 season, and backed out.


That statement is a bit unfair, don't you think? That was probably one of the worst seasons on record, and they made a go of it anyway. Plus Seven Springs owners were in the process of marketing the resort for sale, and had to vey conscience of making it look as profitable as possible. Everyone (including them) wishes it would have turned out better.
hockeydave
January 19, 2008
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
I am 99.99% certain Seven Springs is not relevant to the Laurel Mountain conversation now. Back door lobbying (i.e. requesting DCNR not to reopen Laurel) could be their only impact. Frankly, I don't even think that is a remote possibility.

Both ski areas are very distinct, offer different atmospheres and cater to different types of people/skiers. I liken it to Steeler fans going to Seven Springs and Pirate fans going to Laurel, with attendance figures approximately the same (of course, exclude fireworks nights... those from YinzBurgh know what I'm talking about).

If Laurel reopens, any impact to Seven Springs bottom line will be negligible. Seven Springs management will never admit this, but they may even be somewhat happy that Laurel could offload some of their weekend traffic, which, in my case, prevents me from skiing there on a Sat/Sun.
rjsherrin
January 19, 2008
Member since 09/28/2005 🔗
145 posts
That statement is a bit unfair, don't you think

No I don't really think so. They left behind broken equipment and things a mess. Granted, it was a bad year but when you lease a seasonal operation, you can't call it quits after one year. You need to give it at least 3 years. I don't think the Springs at Laurel Mountain had any impact on the Seven Springs sale. There was a year by year lease on Laurel and a seperate entity owned each business.
Ullr
January 19, 2008
Member since 11/27/2004 🔗
531 posts
 Originally Posted By: rjsherrin
That statement is a bit unfair, don't you think

No I don't really think so. They left behind broken equipment and things a mess. Granted, it was a bad year but when you lease a seasonal operation, you can't call it quits after one year. You need to give it at least 3 years. I don't think the Springs at Laurel Mountain had any impact on the Seven Springs sale. There was a year by year lease on Laurel and a seperate entity owned each business.


So, Seven Springs started running the area and when they got it all the equipment was in good working order and everything was neat, and when they left they had broken some of the equipment and left it a mess? Please enlighten me on the specifics, this is very interesting.
rjsherrin
January 19, 2008
Member since 09/28/2005 🔗
145 posts
I heard broken grooming equipment, broken water lines, electrical problems among other things. The reason I say 2 or 3 years is the first year George had it, the gross reciepts were $600000.00 and year 2 they doubled to over 1,200,000.00 and year 3 was about the same as year 2.
SKIHIKEBIKE
January 19, 2008
Member since 12/1/2007 🔗
4 posts
I believe that 7 Springs used Laurel Mountain as a way to get a leg up on the slots situation at the time. They agreed to open Laurel around the same time the state passed slots beings started in PA.
Ullr
January 19, 2008
Member since 11/27/2004 🔗
531 posts
 Originally Posted By: rjsherrin
I heard broken grooming equipment, broken water lines, electrical problems among other things.


You heard? From who? I would be interested in hearing it first hand from Laural employees. I'm not saying it didn't happen, it's just there have been several formal employees who have posted here, and this had not been brought up before. Does anyone else have this info? This is very interesting.
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
January 19, 2008
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,859 posts
I think there were other reasons beyond slot casinos and controlling competition behind 7S interest at that time. I have reason to believe that 7S management was split in their views of Laurel's fit with 7 Springs. Once the deal with the Nuttings went through, interest in Laurel wanned but management at 7S kept open a weak possibility. Now with a real offer on the table 7S seems to be back in the rumor mill if not actual consideration.

I, for one, would favor Buncher at this point in the process. I think Hidden Valley and Laurel synergy is right, they are physically closer and each has what the other lacks. Laurel would be a much greater compliment to HV than to 7S. I think a sharper competition between HV and 7S will serve the snow sport public well.

As for 7S, as hockeydave said, they had their chance and sat idle. Now when there is a real threat to their near monopoly suddenly there is rumored interest. It doesn't seem to be a genuine interest and I would fear that under a 7S stewardship Laurel will languish. I could be wrong but that's my gut feeling.
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
January 19, 2008
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,859 posts
Ullr, it seems that all tools and equipment that wasn't 'nailed down' went missing during 7S watch while negotiations were still to be ongoing with Somerset Trust. A 7S crew was occasionally dispatched to Laurel to do routine maintenance. I think the conclusion of local law enforcement was drug related burglary, crack or meth heads looking for fix money. The recent theft of cooper wire and subsequent damage to lifts and out buildings lend support to the prior conclusions.

Some other items of concern were thought to be missing. When George opened for the 99/00 season there was an outpouring of donations of old Laurel artifacts, records and written accounts of Laurel's history. I have since heard from the park manager that some, if not all of this was found. It was hoped that these item might be have been taken to 7S when they cleared out.

There was never any public accusations of wrong doing on the part of 7 Springs that I know of.
hockeydave
January 19, 2008
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
When Seven Springs agreed to operate Laurel a couple of years ago, many people were euphoric. Many of us envisioned that Seven Springs would transform Laurel's potential into reality. Expectations, justly or unjustly, were high. And quite honestly, Seven Springs is at the very least partly to blame for these high expectations. Here is a quote from Scott Bender at the time of the announcement that Seven Springs would operate Laurel:

"We can't wait to get it open," said Scott Bender, Seven Springs' president and chief operating officer. "Like Seven Springs, we believe Laurel Mountain is a unique place with a unique setting. We believe we can pull this together and make it the best it's ever been."

Sounded like they were in it for the long haul... WRONG! Seven Springs raised expectations and when they went 3 & out (months, that is), many like myself were deeply disappointed. I can't speak to the state Seven Springs left Laurel's equipment and infrastructure in. But I did badmouth Seven Springs management because they continued to perpetuate hope in several interviews and newspaper articles that they may reopen Laurel in the future when in reality that was never a possibility. They claimed they lost hundreds of thousands that year at Laurel. Hell, if Seven Springs couldn't make Laurel work, who could? I suspected they did this to keep other buyers away, but I have no proof. But all of this is in the past.

Fast forward to the present... Like I said in a previous post, I have not heard any confirmed news that Seven Springs has now entered into the Laurel equation. Until someone in the know tells me that Seven Springs is now again talking about operating Laurel, I will treat this info as an unfounded rumor and nothing more.

I know for a fact there is genuine interest from Buncher (see Johnstown Tribune Democrat article on Dec 15, 2007). I am hoping that I will be skiing at Laurel next year under a steward who sees Laurel for what it is; a beautiful, scenic, natural, challenging, and most importantly, family-friendly ski area. With just a few enhancments and correct managerial oversight, Laurel can and will be profitable each & every year.
Ullr
January 19, 2008
Member since 11/27/2004 🔗
531 posts
Thanks for the info.
Taylormatt
January 20, 2008
Member since 12/3/2004 🔗
339 posts
IMO, 7S only operated LM in hopes to grease the wheels for the go ahead from the State to open the Western Expansion (which crosses State Game Lands and was the #1 reason for the expansion not happening all these years) at 7S.

I really don't believe they ever had any intention of actually keeping the place open. Only long enough to get the DCNR to help them out with their on-site problem (the Western Expansion).

Dupre's are now out of the picture, so it's a whole new ball game.

Hopefully Buncher can make it happen. It really it does compliment HV. HV has all the beginner terrain they can handle and no intermediate to advanced. LM has all the intermediate to advanced terrain that we wished we had at 7S. It would be an advanced skiers paradise in the Mid Atlantic. Blue Knob and Timberline all rolled into one with hopefully some updated lifts and snow making that those two don't possess.
skibum
January 27, 2008
Member since 12/3/2007 🔗
79 posts
The hold up for buncher is getting a deal work out on the water and sewage buncher want to develop on 300 lots that are in laurel village buncher need water and sewage to do that . They want the state grant money to build water and sewage system. The outer info I have is that buncher was looking at used 4 person lifts at holiday valley not for hidden valley but to replace the old 2 person at laurel . skibum
hockeydave
January 30, 2008
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
To all of those who took the time to contact PA state reps, Westmoreland & Somerset County commissioners and the DCNR...

THANK YOU!!!

I honestly believe our collective voice will yield the desired result... Laurel will be once again open for skiing next year and hopefully for many years after that.
skibum
January 30, 2008
Member since 12/3/2007 🔗
79 posts
I hope your Wright if and when the good new comes can we all get to gather and meet to celebrity .At the wildcat bar ski bum
hockeydave
January 30, 2008
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
I'd rather get together ASAP after an announcement is made. I suspect the Wildcat won't be open until next ski season.
Leo
January 31, 2008
Member since 11/15/2005 🔗
279 posts
I am trying to read between the lines here...

Are you telling me that it is "officially" happening??

A John Harvards get together had been discussed no matter what the outcome of the LM business. Still seems like a good idea to me.
hockeydave
January 31, 2008
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
Nope, I truly know of nothing official, just wishful & hopeful thinking. There are still some variables in the equation that need to be solved, but I'm hoping a solution and subsequent announcement occurs no later than April.
skibum
January 31, 2008
Member since 12/3/2007 🔗
79 posts
imp is the man with the best info hope to here from him soon ski bum
skibum
February 3, 2008
Member since 12/3/2007 🔗
79 posts
I have info that both 7 springs and buncher (hidden valley) have made proposal to the state to run laurel the state has an outside company to evaluate both offers and make recommendations. Ski bum
hockeydave
February 3, 2008
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
Skibum - Assuming what you state is true, I wonder why there is sudden interest from the folks over at Champion when they let Laurel sit idle for the past 3 years? Do I smell the scent of competition for the Laurel Highlands tourism dollar wafting over the Laurel Highlands?

Please, anybody, if you want to use the excuse of new ownership at Seven Springs as the reason for renewed interest, don't waste the keystrokes.
skibum
February 3, 2008
Member since 12/3/2007 🔗
79 posts
Bencher has a long term deal on the table to build and improve the mountain. the deal 7 springs has on the table keep it as is little or know long term plans for improvements .the buncher plan has the state to help with some financial investments in the infrastructure. The springs will take it as is no help from the state. The springs plan will not be good for the long term development of laurel buncher will walk away form the deal if the state is too cheep to help.buncher has the better plan and we should throw or support behind them. The springs has had there chance to make a go of it. they pull out after one season. It call in to question the commitment to laurel mt. and if the springs will stay in the deal for the long term. Let us let the state (dcnr) knows we want a long term deal with improvements. Not a as is deal
skibum
February 5, 2008
Member since 12/3/2007 🔗
79 posts
The info I have is buncher is just about out of patience with the state. . The spring's wants it to keep buncher out .springs had there chance. I think in the end they will walk away .buncher is our best hope for long term
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
February 9, 2008
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,859 posts
I shouldn't be surprised that the Springs is back in the running but I am. They've had so much opportunity to do something at Laurel but turned their backs. I hope the Buncher Company doesn't walk on the deal. In my gut I feel that would be the end of Laurel because I can't see how Nuttings' interest is sincere, not at this time. The DCNR should drive a hard bargain with Seven Springs if they decide to award them the lease.

If there is Seven Springs management keeping tabs here, I do hope this is more then just a play to blunt competition. I know it is that but Laurel deserves more then being a sacrificial pawn in a real estate game. You folks have one of the best snow sport operations in the country, your customer service is first rate, your snow making the best, you've got a great snow sports school and après ski and off slope activity can't be beat. But your terrain is boring and you have a lot of it, all the same. There is little for the advanced skier except icy bumps or park tricks. The only time I'm truly excited about skiing there is after a dump and that is few and very far between. Frankly, I hope Buncher gets the lease but if you guys end up with the lease, for the sake of the sport do right by Laurel.

If the Buncher folks are here, please don't walk. Your very interest and willingness to open Laurel and attempt to herd the cats of the DCNR has earned the good will of all the old Laurel faithful. We're rooting for you and we will reward you with our patronage.
skibum
February 11, 2008
Member since 12/3/2007 🔗
79 posts
Well said laurel
hockeydave
February 17, 2008
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
This is just my opinion, but the state (PA) needs to make an announcement about Laurel Mountain before April 15th in order for Laurel to reopen for the '08-'09 ski season. Given that Seven Springs has their season passes heavily discounted prior to June 1, people who would likely ski and buy their passes at Laurel would opt to buy their passes at the Springs before the June 1st deadline and thus forego a season pass at Laurel. The 6 weeks between 4/15 & 6/1 would allow the future operator to make plans for improvements, no matter how small, and also set up a season pass office. Also, there is much work to be done at Laurel (e.g. infrastructure & slope maintenance, reconvening the ski patrol and a ski school, etc.) given that it has sat idle for the past 3 seasons. So, if an announcement is not made sometime by the middle of April, sadly, Laurel may sit idle for yet another ski season.
skibum
February 22, 2008
Member since 12/3/2007 🔗
79 posts
any body heard ANY THING? LAST NEWS I HAD BUNCHER WAS WATING TO HERE BACK FROM THE STATE SKIBUM
gizmosnow
February 22, 2008
Member since 10/6/2005 🔗
269 posts
Been pretty quite lately but a suggestion....

HV is advertising a Winter Carnival for the weekend of March 8/9. For those who have not had the opportunity to visit HV this season (and even those who have), I think it would be a great idea to show our support to Buncher by coming out to HV during this end-of-season celebration. Who knows, a big turnout may invigorate their interest in Laurel?!

[Buncher put a tremendous effort into a great season kickoff weekend with only a modest turnout --- possibly due to lousy weather. Slopes are in excellent shape and, based on the long-range forecast, ought to hold. A big turnout may have a big impact for the future of both HV and Laurel.]
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
February 23, 2008
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,859 posts
I think that's a great idea. Let's just call it a Buncher appreciation day. Let's start a separate thread and urge all DCSkiers to attend March 8/9 spring carnival at Hidden Valley.

Any HV regulars willing to host?
skibum
March 7, 2008
Member since 12/3/2007 🔗
79 posts
the last word i have it is all or nothing. the next30 days will tell. ski bum
hockeydave
March 9, 2008
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
My guess is something will be announced by 4/30, but hopefully sooner. I would imagine that even the state realizes that any delay past 4/30 will severely lessen the likelihood that Laurel will open for '08-'09 (they might as well wait until 4/30/2009 to make an announcement if it doesn't happen in the next 6 weeks). It is imperative that an announcement be made soon due to the amount of work necessary to get Laurel up and running PROPERLY, (season pass sales being the immediate priority, new website, hiring some staff, advertising and promoting the new reopening, any necesssary maintenance/upgrades to slopes, equipment & infrastructure).

As an example, I'm sure that HV skier traffic was limited this year to some extent by the uncertainty of what was going to happen if the Kettler regime remained in place. I know that a few HV regulars/homeowners even wondered if the slopes would even open if the Kettlers remained, opting instead to buy season passes at 7S.

So hopefully, things will happen sooner rather than later. I'm not getting any younger and I desperately want to ski Laurel again next year.
skibum
March 15, 2008
Member since 12/3/2007 🔗
79 posts
juat got back from out west skiing hope to get info this week skibum
snowsmith - DCSki Supporter
March 24, 2008
Member since 03/15/2004 🔗
1,367 posts
I heard this unconfirmed information this weekend:

Buncher and the State have a pending agreement for Buncher to operate LM, however, there are two issues holding up finalizing the agreement:

1) Buncher wants to do a land swap to get some land in Kooser State Park to add ski trails to Hidden Valley. Apparently the State Park land next to the future 'Outback' ski slopes contains some primo steep terrain that Buncher wants to add to the ski area to make the ski mountain more like Seven Springs. They have some land (not sure where) that they want to swap with the State so they can use the State Park land for slope expansion at HV.
2) Buncher wants to add new trails to LM since there really are only 4 main routes down the mountain. Not sure what issues the State has with this.

That is the unconfirmed information that I was told this weekend by a person who swears it was true. However, i never met this person before so it could all be BS for all I know.
hockeydave
March 24, 2008
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
 Quote:
However, i never met this person before so it could all be BS for all I know.


Snowsmith, you should have rolled up the pant legs and pulled out the air freshener. ;\)
snowsmith - DCSki Supporter
March 25, 2008
Member since 03/15/2004 🔗
1,367 posts
Sorry man, just reporting what I was told.

What is the latest that you have heard?
hockeydave
March 25, 2008
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
I haven't heard a whole lot lately, and what little I do know, I can't divulge. Besides not hearing any of the "BS" myself, I have other reasons to believe why the guy you met was most likely blowing smoke:

 Quote:
1) Buncher wants to do a land swap to get some land in Kooser State Park to add ski trails to Hidden Valley. Apparently the State Park land next to the future 'Outback' ski slopes contains some primo steep terrain that Buncher wants to add to the ski area to make the ski mountain more like Seven Springs. They have some land (not sure where) that they want to swap with the State so they can use the State Park land for slope expansion at HV.

I can't imagine that the state (PA DCNR) would take too kindly to what in effect could be considered a threat or at the very least, a bribe; that is to say "You (DCNR) swap land with us (Buncher) and and we (Buncher) will open Laurel. If you don't swap the land, we won't open Laurel". If a land swap is propsed between Hidden Valley & Koosier State Park, I would suspect that that would be part of a separate negotiation.

 Quote:
2) Buncher wants to add new trails to LM since there really are only 4 main routes down the mountain. Not sure what issues the State has with this.

As far as terrain expansion is concerned at Laurel, there are much more pressing concerns with getting Laurel viable. Obvious environmental concerns, Mellon family approval, and lack of snowmaking on existing trails let alone on new ones make slope expansion very low on the priority list.

However, I am still positive that Laurel will open for skiing for the 08-09 season, but some agreement has got to be struck soon (by the end of April) for that to happen. Hopefully we can hook up for a few runs next year if an agreeement is reached.
imp
March 27, 2008
Member since 01/11/2007 🔗
238 posts
THe land swap had been a Kettler thing ten years ago, not being revisited as far as the grapevine knows. New outback slopes to be roughed in this summer but not touching Koosier.
The light is at the end of the tunnel just hope it is a snowcat.
There have been a lot of boot tracks on the hill this week and
the feasibility study that came out looks promising.

imp
hockeydave
March 28, 2008
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
Thanks for confirming Imp... I was informed by another DCSkier that some tracks were made on Laurel, as part of the feas study, after the 18 inch dump a couple of weeks ago. I still maintain the go-ahead must be given before 4/30 in order to sufficiently prepare Laurel for skiing next winter.
snowsmith - DCSki Supporter
March 28, 2008
Member since 03/15/2004 🔗
1,367 posts
I have purchased my HV season pass for next year ($269 - not bad). I wonder if they are going to add a supplemental pass for LM or have a stand alone pass.
If they cut the new Outback slopes this summer, we may be able to pinch a few runs before the lifts and snow making are installed in 2009/2010 assuming mother nature provides us some snow next winter
skibum
March 28, 2008
Member since 12/3/2007 🔗
79 posts
can we get a copy of the feasibility study? imp has had the best info in the past. skibum
hockeydave
April 23, 2008
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
Just keeping this thread on the front burner...
jb714
April 23, 2008
Member since 03/4/2003 🔗
294 posts
I'm holding off on the purchase of a 7 Springs season pass for 08/09, in hopes that I'll be able to buy a Hidden Valley/LM pass instead.
skibum
April 23, 2008
Member since 12/3/2007 🔗
79 posts
keep the faith my Friends ski bum
LMV
April 26, 2008
Member since 06/1/2005 🔗
60 posts
skibum
April 26, 2008
Member since 12/3/2007 🔗
79 posts
this is the news we been waiting for ski bun
hockeydave
April 27, 2008
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
I spoke to someone today on the golf course who is well connected with state politics. He told me he is relatively sure the funding for Laurel will be approved because the right people in Harrisburg are behind this effort. The only problem is the timing for state budget approval (I believe he said July). Hopefully something can be worked out soon.
skibum
April 27, 2008
Member since 12/3/2007 🔗
79 posts
o boy more fun with politics and and politicians, skibum
hockeydave
May 12, 2008
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
I was told by a Ligonier, PA resident that there was a very nice front page article in the Ligonier Echo (2 weeks ago) regarding the possible reopening of the Laurel Mountain ski area. No one certainly will mistake this weekly paper as the Washington Post, but it does confirm that local interest does exist and that the locals realize the importance of the ski area to the local econonmy and to the quality of life in the region.
snowsmith - DCSki Supporter
May 12, 2008
Member since 03/15/2004 🔗
1,367 posts
I understand that Buncher is still negotiating with the State reqarding operation of LM.
My assumption is that the numbers don't work for any private entity taking over LM because of the cost of the necessary improvements to make this a viable commercial ski enterprise. Thus I think the State is going to have to foot at least part of the bill to add snow making and new terrrain. Thus I think another year will pass with no skiing at LM. But that is just my glass half full assessment.
skibum
May 12, 2008
Member since 12/3/2007 🔗
79 posts
it is all up to the state to come up with money . no money no LM keep the faith ski bum
skibum
May 18, 2008
Member since 12/3/2007 🔗
79 posts
I have received some information that the state money for LM is in the process of being approved in the state budget for this year. We need to contact our state senators in Harrisburg and let them know we want this money approved for LM ski bum
hockeydave
May 19, 2008
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
Here's my opinion (for what its worth) at this point. Probably the best course of action is to lay low. Reason being, the money is in the state budget for Laurel Mountain. We just now wait for approval from Harrisburg (Legislature & Govenor). The case has already been made by the constituents; without us, Laurel wouldn't even be in the budget. All we can do is hope the right people are behind this effort and willing to fight to keep the money in the budget. Whether or not Laurel gets the funding should now be weighed on its own merit. I'm sure there will be many detractors and efforts by lobbyists and influential people (e.g. owners of the Pittsburgh Pirates) to keep Laurel closed. If the money is not approved for Laurel, I think we can officially pull Laurel off of life support and place it in the Lost Ski Areas.

One alternative course of action would be to take out an ad in the Harrisburg newspaper (the Patriot News). It would enumerate the many valid reasons why Laurel should and needs to be reopened. I'll contribute $100 to that end, we just need our resident eloquent spokesperson Laurel Hill Crazie to craft it.
camp
May 19, 2008
Member since 01/30/2005 🔗
599 posts
 Originally Posted By: hockeydave
...efforts by lobbyists and influential people (e.g. owners of the Pittsburgh Pirates) to keep Laurel closed.
Why would the Pirates' owner want Laurel closed?
hockeydave
May 19, 2008
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
Seven Springs Owner = Pittsburgh Pirates Owner
JohnL
May 19, 2008
Member since 01/6/2000 🔗
3,518 posts
 Quote:
efforts by lobbyists and influential people (e.g. owners of the Pittsburgh Pirates) to keep Laurel closed.


Even more basic question, why is the owner of the Pirates influential in PA? ;\)
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
May 19, 2008
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,859 posts
I've been meaning to write a rebuttal of the Trib's trashing of Sen. White and Laurel in their May, 5 editorial but I just can't find the angle or the time to do so. That editorial is so inflammatory in so many ways, so full of half-truths and specious argument, I just don't know how best to respond. The problem with writing back to an editorial is they will edit and since they are strongly opposed, you must be careful because you could look like a real fool. You got to be concise because I'm sure they will not give you more then a few sentences.

An add would give you editorial freedom and if folks thought it were worth the effort, I'd love to take a stab at writing the copy. I don't know if I'm eloquent but I sure am passionate.
The Colonel - DCSki Supporter
May 19, 2008
Member since 03/5/2004 🔗
3,107 posts
Obviously I missed a post! What editorial? What was the gist of the piece, or can you send the link?
The Colonel \:\)
The Colonel - DCSki Supporter
May 19, 2008
Member since 03/5/2004 🔗
3,107 posts
 Originally Posted By: hockeydave
Here's my opinion (for what its worth) at this point. Probably the best course of action is to lay low. Reason being, the money is in the state budget for Laurel Mountain. We just now wait for approval from Harrisburg (Legislature & Govenor). The case has already been made by the constituents; without us, Laurel wouldn't even be in the budget. All we can do is hope the right people are behind this effort and willing to fight to keep the money in the budget. Whether or not Laurel gets the funding should now be weighed on its own merit. I'm sure there will be many detractors and efforts by lobbyists and influential people (e.g. owners of the Pittsburgh Pirates) to keep Laurel closed. If the money is not approved for Laurel, I think we can officially pull Laurel off of life support and place it in the Lost Ski Areas.

One alternative course of action would be to take out an ad in the Harrisburg newspaper (the Patriot News). It would enumerate the many valid reasons why Laurel should and needs to be reopened. I'll contribute $100 to that end, we just need our resident eloquent spokesperson Laurel Hill Crazie to craft it.


I think you need to carefully weigh the value of a large ad in the Harrisonburg paper against the potential back lash from many non-skiers who might see spending money for Laurel as a waste of their tax money in these tight funding times.
Perhaps better to find out who is behind this budget item (Buncher?, lobbyist?, etc.) and contact them directly to see if they need any help or a letter writing effort?
The Colonel \:\)
RobertW
May 19, 2008
Member since 10/14/2004 🔗
199 posts
 Quote:
Obviously I missed a post! What editorial? What was the gist of the piece, or can you send the link?

Click Here for the editorial...
hockeydave
May 20, 2008
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
As stated in my post, Laurel was placed in the budget at least in part due to a concerted letter writing, email sending, phone calling effort to local politicians made by many of the local folks and people on this website concerned that w/o state intervention, Laurel may never reopen as a ski area again. I'm not sure there is much more that we can do. Any more direct badgering of legislators may do harm instead of good. If the right people are behind this, and these people are willing to fight to ensure at lease a good chunk of the money gets placed in the budget, then the obvious happens. Otherwise, bye bye Laurel.

As to non-skiers being unhappy or upset, too bad. I'm sure I fall into many "non-groups" where state money is used for something that I can never take advantage of. Laurel can be used by any resident of the state (or out of state) year round; hiking, mountain biking, and hopefully skiing. I can't think of a better use of state money where anybody who choses to can take advantage of the money they paid in state taxes.

I still think that a well crafted, articulate, and accurate ad in the Patriot News may be the best way to make a case to the Legislature and Govenor to get money attached to Laurel.
jimmy
May 20, 2008
Member since 03/5/2004 🔗
2,650 posts
 Originally Posted By: JohnL
 Quote:
efforts by lobbyists and influential people (e.g. owners of the Pittsburgh Pirates) to keep Laurel closed.


Even more basic question, why is the owner of the Pirates influential in PA? ;\)


Ha that's a good one, maybe i told this before, sorry

Why are there no Major league baseball franchises in Nebraska or New Mexico??

Because if Pittsburgh found out they'd want one too \:D

That editorial sounds like the owner of the pirates also owns the Trib?
hockeydave
May 20, 2008
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
Don't let the Succo's abysmal track record over the past 16 years sucker anybody into thinking that the Nuttings are bumbling idiots. They've acquired a vast fortune in the newspaper business and make money year in and year out at PNC Park with a horrible product (unless, of course, you're a big fan of pierogie races and fireworks every other night). I would hazard a guess that they may be working behind the scenes via contacts and lobbying efforts in Harrisburg to keep Laurel closed.

Also, the people who own the Trib are directly related to the people who own land all around Laurel and gave Laurel to the state 45+ years ago. With all the other pork in the state budget, why single out Laurel? Hmmm.

BTW, I still want to see Cheese Chester and Sauerkraut Saul having a race down Gunnar
snowsmith - DCSki Supporter
May 20, 2008
Member since 03/15/2004 🔗
1,367 posts
I'd bet if Mountain Masher were here, he'd blame it on Blue Knob. After all, Blue Knob is the official local mountain for Johnstown residents.
You may want to check if the Nuttings do in fact own the Tribune Democrat.
Buncher told me that their involvement with LM is "still in negotiation".
hockeydave
May 20, 2008
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
FYI: The fountain of misinformation about Laurel was editorialized (if that's a word) in the Pittsburgh/Greensburg Tribune Review, not the Johnstown Tribune Democrat. Most people consider the Tribune Review as the red headed stepchild of the Pittsburgh newspapers.

Richard Mellon Scaife owns the Tribune Review. He just made 2 new friends recently after being the ring leader of the vast right wing conspiracy. Bill & Hillary love him now.
hockeydave
June 2, 2008
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
This is what could become of Laurel Mountain if it we're located just 40 miles or so south (in Maryland).

http://www.rockygapresort.com/

Some people might not like what has become of Rocky Gap, but some forward looking politicians almost 2 decades ago, led by Gov. William Donald Schaffer, decided to invigorate probably the most economically depressed area of Maryland with a new Interstate (I-68) and permit the development of a totally under utilized state park (sound familliar). Now look. Cumberland is now a vibrant tourist area. Jobs created. Dollars coming in to the local economy. What's PA doing? Wasting time deciding if a conscientious corporate citizen is worthy to operate a ski area in their pristine state park. You can either laugh or cry. My tears aren't coming from laughter.
jimboc
June 2, 2008
Member since 03/30/2004 🔗
260 posts
Only problem is....

State-supported resort is struggling: Business is slow, and debt dogs Rocky Gap.

Source: Baltimore Sun (Baltimore, MD)

Publication Date: 21-SEP-07


Byline: James Drew Sun Reporter

Sep. 21--On a recent weekday, Wit Kosicki enjoyed the view of Evitts Mountain as his wife received a massage inside the Rocky Gap Lodge & Golf Resort.

Kosicki, an insurance broker who has lived in Timonium for 20 years, was surprised to find only a smattering of people in the upscale restaurant for lunch. Only a few had rented boats or bicycles on a sunny day when the noon temperature hit 75 degrees. The indoor pool was empty, and the fairways on the Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course were surprisingly uncrowded.

"It's very quiet," he said.

Nearly a decade after opening, the state-supported resort in Allegany County has struggled with operating losses that, while gradually shrinking, totaled $1.1 million last year. It has missed payments to bondholders, and the project's owner, the Maryland Economic Development Corp., is negotiating with them to restructure the debt.

In fact, the resort is in danger of defaulting on its debt, said Bruce A. Myers, the state's chief legislative auditor.

"How long can this go on?" asked Myers. "Ten years from now, will there be a larger deficit?"

He has urged MEDCO to craft a plan with two state agencies to fix the financial problems troubling...

http://www.accessmylibrary.com/coms2/summary_0286-32936651_ITM
snowsmith - DCSki Supporter
June 2, 2008
Member since 03/15/2004 🔗
1,367 posts
I actually wrote a letter to the state senator for this area (I think it was Casper Taylor) and suggested that it was the perfect place for a ski area (unlimited water for snow making, more than 1,000' vertical, easy access, hotel in place, etc. ) > He wrote back and said that the mountain on the northeast side of the lake was designated 'wildland' and could not be developed.
skibum
June 2, 2008
Member since 12/3/2007 🔗
79 posts
keep the faith
hockeydave
June 3, 2008
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
In spite of the article in the Baltimore Sun (otherwise known by a Baltimore talk show host as the Calvert and Center Street Democratic Club), I stand by my original post. Rocky Gap in 2008 is a definite improvement over Rocky Gap in 1988. Jobs created and tourism dollars infused into an economically depressed Allegany County.

I do see one problem however at Rocky Gap. The Maryland Economic Development Corporation, which operates Rocky Gap, is a corporation established and overseen by the state of Maryland (i.e. an arm of state government). Need I say more why Rocky Gap is losing money. I would wager if a corporation which has no ties to government were operating Rocky Gap, it probably would, at the very least, break even.

Laurel does have a boat load of stipulations about development and use. However, I believe a profitabe partnership can be created between the state and a private operator where everybody wins.
camp
June 3, 2008
Member since 01/30/2005 🔗
599 posts
 Originally Posted By: hockeydave
....Need I say more why Rocky Gap is losing money. I would wager if a corporation which has no ties to government were operating Rocky Gap, it probably would, at the very least, break even. ...
You think?? Isn't it just possible that Rocky Gap is a bit "over developed"? And a little too close to the Deep Creek area where all those same amenities have existed and survived for a lot longer?

Maybe Rocky Gap would've done a bit better if it were a little more State Parky and less luxury.
snowsmith - DCSki Supporter
June 3, 2008
Member since 03/15/2004 🔗
1,367 posts
Rocky Gap is the public-private partnership that you speak of. It is operated by a private concern, not the government. They do well during the summer and fall months, but it is dead in the winter and spring, thus they loose money.
Canaan on the other hand has year round activities and is also leased to a private operator. They bid on the lease.If the government wouldn't have built and financed Rocky Gap, there wouldn't be a Rocky Gap because it is too risky for private concern to take on.
Edgar3
June 3, 2008
Member since 05/29/2007 🔗
149 posts
The resort business in this part of the world has become very competitive. You have Bedford Springs that just opened up, and I have never understood how Nemocolin can be anything more than a write off for the owners. It's surprising that Rocky Gap looses only $1M a year under State control.

The difference with Laurel is that the State would not be operating it. Not certain of the terms, but would expect that there is some kind of long term lease they would have in mind with the operator, so they should know what they are getting into upfront re: ongoing costs.

Although Rocky Gap may have some minor impact, the revitilization in western MD may have more to do with the interstate access and the good job that has been done with the Deep Creek Area. I was there last fall for the first time in a few years and couldn't believe how they have cleaned the area up and executed on their plans such as with the Whitewater Park (also funded via some state $) See: http://travel.nytimes.com/2006/01/27/realestate/27wisp.html?pagewanted=1e
This contrasts with what little Pennsylvania has done to leverage their assets in the Laurel Highlands.
snowsmith - DCSki Supporter
June 3, 2008
Member since 03/15/2004 🔗
1,367 posts
Rocky Gap is not operated by the State, it is operated by Crestline Hotels and Resorts, Inc.
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
June 21, 2008
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,859 posts
I'm fearing no news is not good news when it comes to Laurel. We should have heard something official by now. I'm afraid the next official announcement will be that Laurel Mountain will not open for the 08-09 season.
hockeydave
June 22, 2008
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
Rob, did you happen to talk to someone (we know who that someone is) or just a gut feeling? It's been awfully quiet and I've seen zero signs of life in and around the lodge on recent walks back there. I know July is when the state budget gets approved but if it were a done deal, I would think some work should have been started by now if it were to have a chance to open this year. \:\(
skibum
June 24, 2008
Member since 12/3/2007 🔗
79 posts
this week the budget get approved . then we will know
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
June 24, 2008
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,859 posts
Yeah, I hope you are right. I'm just getting a little antsy. From what we know of the energy the Buncher Company and the possibilities they can create, I just dread the chance that interest in getting this done is wanning.

A lot of money was invested by the DCNR in the northern tier of PA to create the Pennsylvania Wilds program. It involved a concerted effort to get private interest, local governments and the DCNR to come together to invest and promote PA outdoor recreation opportunities there. Here in the Laurel Highlands that sort of scenario sprang organically with local pols and a well financed private party going to the PA DCNR to seek such a partnership.

I just hope that this project is still on track.
skibum
June 30, 2008
Member since 12/3/2007 🔗
79 posts
the budget was agreed to last night. hope the money is still in there . ski bum
snowsmith - DCSki Supporter
July 2, 2008
Member since 03/15/2004 🔗
1,367 posts
I would think that you check the budget on the web?
hockeydave
July 2, 2008
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
You would think so, wouldn't ya? But after all, this is Pennsylvania, where our state symbol has been officially changed to the orange road barrel.

First one to post a link in this thread as to the whereabouts of the PA state budget gets a 5 star rating from me. I really don't think it's out there though because past budgets aren't (at least I couldn't find any of them). The folks in Harrisburg don't want us peasants to know what our tribute is being spent on.
snosnugums
July 2, 2008
Member since 04/10/2006 🔗
126 posts
Try contacting Kirk Swauger of the Johnstown Tribune Democrat. He does the local beat and has done some stories on Hidden Valley.
Heather
July 3, 2008
Member since 02/24/2005 🔗
170 posts
I did a google search for Pennsylvania state budget 2008 and located the pdf version that is available for all to view. According to the capital budget breakdown, 14.5 mil was budgeted for the DCNR. It did not give a specific breakdown as to how the DCNR will use these funds, however I am hopeful that some of that money will be spent @ LM. I will try to obtain a copy of the 2007 budget to see if there has been an increase in funding for the DCNR.

After taking a closer look @ the capital budget for 2008-2009, the above mentioned figure is not correct. It appears that after looking @ the Governor's executive budget, approx 116 mil was approved for the DCNR. I am not sure how these figures are soooo different, however it is out there in print. I just takes a smarter mind to figure out what the budget actually says.
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
July 5, 2008
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,859 posts
The budget was actually passed yesterday so the details should be available soon. As for Laurel's funding, if it is still there, it would be discretionary spending under capital projects. Final approval to release those funds rests with the Governor.
JohnL
July 6, 2008
Member since 01/6/2000 🔗
3,518 posts
So clue an out-of-towner in; any chance of skiing at LM 08-09 or with "possible" funding are we looking at 09-10?
hockeydave
July 8, 2008
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
If there was an over/under bet that the chance that Laurel would open for '08-'09 is 1%, I would take the under. But I sure hope I'd lose that bet.

I spoke to a fellow this weekend who believes that if an announcement occurs that funding was given by the state to reopen Laurel, even as late as the the end of August, there still exists a real possibility that it can open for '08-'09. And this guy would know. He was part of the team that got Laurel opened in 6 months in '99. But that quick opening in '99 is a major reason why Laurel sits idle today.
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
July 8, 2008
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,859 posts
Unless all the necessary improvements are complete and on time (before Christmas) I would hope that Buncher and the DCNR defer opening Laurel until next season. My fear is that although the curious will visit, if improvements are not in place they lose interest and not return. Laurel really does need near 100% snow making to keep them coming back. A good snow year with a lasting snow pack would remedy that but that hope sunk Laurel before.
comprex
July 8, 2008
Member since 04/11/2003 🔗
1,326 posts
LHC, is there a hike/trail work day scheduled yet?
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
July 8, 2008
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,859 posts
Nothing planned, do you want to participate in such an event? We can do this with the blessing of the local park manager if we organize a day and become volunteers in service of the park. That way all liabilities will be covered. Short of that, if you want to meet and go for a stroll in the woods, we can do that too.

Just to be clear on my last post, I infer that there is an agreement to operate between DCNR and Buncher. I don't know if that is the case. What I do know is that talks are proceeding. I have no idea of the status of the negotiations. Even if an agreement is forthcoming, funding will be the issue. As the saying goes, no funds, no fun.
Taylormatt
July 8, 2008
Member since 12/3/2004 🔗
339 posts
Well, there is a trail work day scheduled for LM on July 26th. It doesn't cover the slopes, but does cover the XC and MTB trails.
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
July 8, 2008
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,859 posts
Matt, are you involved with the group doing the MTB work?
Taylormatt
July 9, 2008
Member since 12/3/2004 🔗
339 posts
I will be there, but not exactly involved. Meaning I don't set anything up. I get info through PORC and LHORBA and show up to help.

The group is meeting at the Nordic Patrol hut at 8AM iirc. Park at the main lot across from main gate to ski slopes. Volunteer trail maintenance crews will consist of hikers, bikers, equestrians & XC skiers along with Park staff.
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
July 9, 2008
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,859 posts
I'll consider getting over there. I'm on vacation that week so family plans may have priority. I'm a board member of the Friends of Linn Run/Forbes Forest (now in hibernation). A group of bikers came to a meeting with concerns about the XC trail work and how it was ruining the mountain biking. It all turned out well as we got them in touch with Forest manager Ed Callahan. I've heard good things about the group doing trail work and I hope that they will eventually be the nucleus of a working Friends group. I really got to get in touch and get my butt over there.

If Laurel opens there will be a huge potential for more worker bee types to join the Friends group. With the trail users and downhill crowd a lot could be done for outdoor recreation in the area.
Taylormatt
July 9, 2008
Member since 12/3/2004 🔗
339 posts
Ed's the one running the trail day. Yeah, many of us were getting bent out of shape because if the XC skiers got their way, all of LM would look like a paved super highway rather than the rocky, natural paradise that it is. Compromise is coming between the two groups. And let's face it, XC skiers use it the least out of all the users with the wonderful winters we have here.
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
July 9, 2008
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,859 posts
Talking to one of the XC ski patrolers, he said that the rocks weren't really a concern. Talking to Ed, drainage and erosion were a big issue. You're right about the prominent trail users though. Back in the eighties when I worked shift work, I would downhill on weekdays and XC on weekends and I seldom had to wait for snow. I first skied glades at LM and they were not flat and I skied them often.

I'm afraid I'm too old, fat and poor to start mountain biking now, well too poor anyways. MTB is a huge draw at Laurel as you know. Biker's needs should be addressed. LM and the surrounding Forbes Forest offers so much for outdoor recreation, rock climbing, hiking, biking, hunting, fishing, skiing almost everything but whitewater.
Taylormatt
July 10, 2008
Member since 12/3/2004 🔗
339 posts
The trail day is NOT at 8 AM, it is 10 AM at the warming hut July 26th.
comprex
July 11, 2008
Member since 04/11/2003 🔗
1,326 posts
Interesting. Show up or sign up?
Taylormatt
July 11, 2008
Member since 12/3/2004 🔗
339 posts
Simply show up.
hockeydave
July 21, 2008
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
Well, its the 3rd week in July, and still no news about Laurel funding.

A group has stepped forward and proposed to operate Laurel Mountain. Now since it's on state land and there are rules against development, then its only fair this group has asked PA to kick in some money to improve Laurel. Also, this group is about to spend $1 billion dollars (yep, nine zeros and three commas after the $1) over the next 30 years at Hidden Valley, which will surely help the depressed economy of Laurel Highlands. And yet these PA government knuckleheads, both elected (governor & legislature) and bureaucratic (DCNR), can't see fit to throw this group a bone. You would think PA government couldn't be in a big enough hurry to give this group some finances, given the relatively small amount of money this group is asking for. The state will surely get this money back in taxes, both directly and indirectly, from this group in the very near future.

If Laurel doen't open this year (and possibly never), this will be yet another fine debacle brought to you by the wonderful commonwealth (or should I say commonimpoverished) of Pennsylvania, Edward G. Rendell, Govenor.
GGNagy
July 22, 2008
Member since 01/5/2006 🔗
451 posts
Maybe they are waiting for Don Barden to come in and bid on running LM. They absolutely love him in Harrisburg. They were willing to lose a professional sports team over his charm, so whats letting a ski area go to waste.
rjsherrin
July 30, 2008
Member since 09/28/2005 🔗
145 posts
This is the latest I've received for Laurel:

I believe when last I wrote we learned that the Buncher Company, who has purchased Hidden Valley Ski Resort and is planning an estimated 1 billion dollar investment in the surrounding area, is in talks with the State concerning a lease to operate Laurel Mountain . Buncher has reached agreement with Somerset Trust to buy Laurel 's assets pending a lease agreement. As I understand the situation the Buncher Company will then give the assets they have purchased from Somerset Trust to the Commonwealth as part of a long term lease agreement. These assets include the quad chair lift, the lodge, all snow making guns and related equipment, snow grooming machines and other items such as maintenance tools that remain at the site. Buncher Company is willing to operate Laurel Mountain as a public service without expectation of making a profit. In other words, Buncher will operate Laurel with only the expectation that the operation breaks even to pay for operating costs.



The whole project is dependent on the DCNR making very substantial investments in Laurel that include replacing the double chair with a new quad and expanded snow making. To this end, State Senator Donald White and State Senator Richard Kasunic have requested that $6.5 million be place in the State budget for capital projects. The entire capital budget is listed in House Bill #1589. The items listed in this capital budget must get final approval from Governor Ed Rendell. Not all capital projects listed will receive funding, most won't be funded. Laurel Mountain 's infrastructure improvements will not happen unless Governor Rendell releases the funds. If the funds are released for Laurel all the improvements made at Laurel will be the property of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania .



I urge you to write the Governor and express your support for Laurel . Local politicians see this as a job creation project and an economic engine for related tourist businesses in the area. If you are a local resident you may wish to express your support for those reasons. If you are from outside the region or you may wish to inform the Governor that you will support Laurel with your patronage. I think it is important to write the Governor and express your support. There has been opposition from the Greensburg Tribune-Review editorial board and it is up to Laurel supporters to counter that opposition by contacting the Governor and local politicians who have backed the Buncher Company efforts to re-open Laurel .



You may write Governor Rendell at:



Governor Edward G. Rendell

Governor's Office
225 Main Capitol Building
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 17120

Or:

E-mail the Governor's Office
http://sites.state.pa.us/PA_Exec/Governor/govmail.html


Please act now,
JimK - DCSki Columnist
July 30, 2008
Member since 01/14/2004 🔗
2,726 posts
Here's a copy of what I just emailed to Gov Rendell; may be copied and used by others if you like, esp appropriate for non-PA residents.
Good luck,
JimK


Greetings Governor Rendell,

As an avid skier from the mid-Atlantic region I'd like to express my strong interest in the reopening of Pennsylvania's Laurel Mountain Ski Area. As you are aware the Buncher Company from Pittsburgh has taken great steps recently to enhance skiing and recreational opportunities in the Laurel Highlands, specifically at Hidden Valley Resort. Now they have expressed interest in also operating nearby Laurel Mountain Ski Area, but their involvement is contingent upon funding from the capital budget listed in House Bill #1589. The reopening of Laurel Mountain will not happen unless the necessary State funds are authorized for infrastructure improvements. I hope you will support this effort. A revitalized Laurel Mountain would further strengthen the appeal of Pennsylvania's beautiful Laurel Highlands as a winter sports destination drawing my patronage and that of thousands of other skiers and snowboarders from the mid-Atlantic states.

Very Respectfully,
skibum
July 30, 2008
Member since 12/3/2007 🔗
79 posts
this is the end game it is now all or nothing. call or e mail the gov office do it to day if you love laurel and don't want her to pass in to history now is the time skibum
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
July 30, 2008
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,859 posts
Here is some excerpt from my e-mail to Governor Rendell:

Dear Governor Rendell,

I am writing to urge you to authorize funding for Laurel Mountain State Park and ski area as detailed in House Bill 1589.

.... I choose to urge you to help out in a matter dear to my heart, one that speaks personally to my quality of life. Please consider helping the Buncher Company as it works with the DCNR to re-open Laurel Mountain and restore some of the best ski terrain in the Mid-Atlantic. Release the money in the capital budget for Laurel Mountain's infrastructure. Allow the Buncher Company to operate the facility as a public service as they have publicly stated.

Laurel Mountain State Park can only be a winter use snow sport facility by the agreement between the Commonwealth and the Mellon Foundation. Because of these limitations most private operators will not consider business operations at Laurel. In the Buncher Company you have an astute business team that went out and recruited Scott Bender, former CEO of the rival Seven Springs Mountain Resort, to run Hidden Valley. They have the expertise to do this. I don't have to tell you of the investment Buncher is making in the region or the potential economic boost this will provide. I don't have to tell you that Laurel is really a short distance away and can be a part of that economic revitalization. I'm sure local politician and even the Buncher Company has made that point. I just don't understand why you would not partner with a Company that already has made investments in the region and is willing to make another investment in a State owned resource.

I can't understand why you would not do for the Laurel Highlands what has been done for the northern tier of our Commonwealth in the Pennsylvania Wilds program. Here you have local politicians on board. You have a private business willing to step up. You have good public support as evidenced by the 95,628 views on the Laurel Mountain topic on the DCSki.com web site. Laurel could be the cornerstone of an invigorated outdoor recreation industry lead by our State Parks serving not only the residents of our state but also an attraction for out of state tourists.

I implore you to support Laurel Mountain and help keep skiing for advanced and expert skiing families affordable for those of us unable to afford the Aspens or even Stowes of the ski industry, who now must worry about the cost of travel to ski areas that offer the kind of terrain only Laurel Mountain has locally.

I am a passionate, no doubt. It would be easy to dismiss my plea because of it. I maybe totally wrong about the feasibility of Laurel Mountain and its appeal to the snow sport public. My love for Laurel, its terrain, history and ambiance could be overwhelming any objectivity at all. ...if my hunch is right then I think you are obliged to honor the commitments made on behalf of the Commonwealth when the gift of Laurel Mountain State Park was made by the Mellon family. Open Laurel Mountain as the snow sport facility it can only be. Assists those willing to honor that pledge and provide the funds necessary to improve Laurel's infrastructure.

Thank you for reading this,
Rob Davis


By the way, I wrote the letter that rjsherrin posted. I'm just want to be transparent in this effort. I always sign my name on all my positions on political and public matters.
skibum
July 31, 2008
Member since 12/3/2007 🔗
79 posts
well said rob skibum
hockeydave
July 31, 2008
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
Gov. Ed is supposed to be in Somerset next Tuesday as part of his post-budget bus tour. Please see Somerset Daily American article.

http://www.dailyamerican.com/articles/2008/07/31/news/news/news096.txt

I would encourage anyone who has the time to attend this gathering with some sort of "Save Laurel Mountain" sign. I, for one, will be unable to attend, but for those who can, this may be the last chance to get his attention, face to face, on the matter. I will attempt to contact county commissioners and state reps in the next couple of days to voice my support of Laurel. I strongly encourage others to do so as well.



Edgar3
August 2, 2008
Member since 05/29/2007 🔗
149 posts
Buncher withdraws interest in Laurel:

http://www.tribune-democrat.com/local/local_story_214223421.html

Guess we are back to square one.
The Colonel - DCSki Supporter
August 2, 2008
Member since 03/5/2004 🔗
3,107 posts
Wonder if this is a ploy...or a real death knoll?
The Colonel
hockeydave
August 3, 2008
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
I have no doubt this is not a ploy. Buncher (and I'm sure even some folks at DCNR) spent too much time, effort, & $$$$ to make this happen. I wouldn't be surprised if Somerset Trust starts selling assets ASAP, given their incredible patience in trying to get a viable ski operator to take over the ski area and buy the assets over the past 3 or so years.

I am deeply concerned for the future of the ski area.
rjsherrin
August 3, 2008
Member since 09/28/2005 🔗
145 posts
I give Somerset Trust credit for trying. It has been hard on them also. I would love to see the 6.5 million grant accepted by the Governor and offered to other resort operations like Seven Springs or Wisp. I really thought it would be opened by Buncher Group this year. Word had it that it was done at the bank and just waiting on DCNR.

I have the feeling I may never see The Lower Wildcat again except for pictures.
skibum
August 3, 2008
Member since 12/3/2007 🔗
79 posts
is this the end ?this all started back in 1999. ski bum
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
August 3, 2008
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,859 posts
When I learned that funding was to be coming from the capital projects budget I was concerned. I'm not really knowledgeable of this funding process but I know that it is impossible to fund each project. I had assumed that with Buncher ready to lend their business experience combined with their own investment and a pledge to run the ski area as a public service that this project would fly.

In many levels of local government here in PA the pols are looking for this type of public/private partnerships to help fund recreational opportunities. Here in Allegheny County (Pittsburgh area) the county officials just launched a drive to create these type of partnerships to fund the county parks.

I'm just dumbfounded that the Governor would let this one pass but maybe $6.5 million for snow sports is just too much political risk. If I had the knowledge and if I had more time to run a professional lobby campaign perhaps things would be different. I hope all is not lost. To this end I urge anyone who has not already done so to please contact the Governors office and speak for Laurel. Urge all your friends to do so. If you belong to a ski club, take the issue to the executive board and ask that your membership join the effort. I'm trying to get a letter together for just such an effort and I'll be in touch with the Western PA Ski Council asap.

We got this close, the DCNR finally is paying attention and I think they were on board, a legitimate private operator is willing to step up, over 96,000 views here on DCSki says that there is public interest, politicians sought $6.5 for the project, they're on board. Focus on what we've been able to do so far and resolve to go another round.We need to convince the Governor this is a worthy effort. We need Governor Rendell to release the funds.
The Colonel - DCSki Supporter
August 3, 2008
Member since 03/5/2004 🔗
3,107 posts
It might not hurt to send a positive note to the Buncher/HV folks asking a reconsideration....but I suspect it all will be too late. Anybody know the real reason Buncher pulled out...sounds like there had to be too many strings attached.
The Colonel \:\)
hockeydave
August 3, 2008
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
You're right Colonel, there were too many strings attached... 6.5 million of them.

My understanding is that a deal was reached with all concerned parties, but was completely contingent on the state releasing the requested funding.

Gov Ed is well-liked here. We have a low threshold that determines likability for politicians. However, he will be remembered by me as the man driving the final nail in Laurel's coffin. Just like LHC, I am dumbfounded. Is all hope lost, I would say so, unless another private group is willing to step up to the plate w/o state funding, and quite frankly, I don't see that happening.

Bob Nutting is an avid skier and has been the benefactor of some major state funding (PNC Park). One could only hope, and this is a big stretch, that he might come to the rescue.
snosnugums
August 3, 2008
Member since 04/10/2006 🔗
126 posts
Why not auction the place off again. If everyone remembers, they did auction off the place and the guy who bought it promptly died. I heard there was more than one bidder.
This is not a good time, I am afraid, for buying a ski area. Just about every business is down. Buncher wisely chose not to take the risk in these tough economic times. They already have a large amount of money spend on HV with little return at this time, although I am sure that they are thinking long term.
Edgar3
August 3, 2008
Member since 05/29/2007 🔗
149 posts
At least with HV there is some upside with the real estate, while with LM there is none. Yes, real estate isn't what it used to be, but Buncher has a cost of entry at HV that still gives plenty of upside.

Beyond that, I still don't understand some of the details of the LM deal. The proposal was supposed to be that Buncher was willing to run it as a "community service" and was just looking to break even. But what if they didn't break even? Were they looking for a contribution from the state regarding operating expenses, or would they eventually they loose interest if things didn't end up cash positive? How long would they have committed to running it at a loss? Anyway, I can see the makings of why this deal would fall apart.
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
August 3, 2008
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,859 posts
Laurel generated revenue every year that it operated, just not enough to retire debt. As for details of the deal, I can't say. When this story first broke (look for the link a few pages back) Tom Balestrieri, President of Buncher, stated that he would run Laurel as a public service. To me that implies not seeking profit, what else could it mean? I assume that being a smart business man he wouldn't agree to operate Laurel at a loss for more than the time a business would run a start up. I would think a 3 to 5 year time frame then if Laurel were a money vacuum then there probably would be an escape clause in the deal.

There has been talk about a feasibility study being done. If there is one it was never made public but common sense dictates that such a study was done either by Buncher or the State, probably both. Since the process went this far I have to assume that such a feasibility study was positive. I find it hard to believe that some sort of economic assessment was not done. If it was done by Buncher then I can understand it not being public.

Snosnugums, the Mayor of Ligonier thinks that Buncher walked because the State wouldn't fund the project. I think he has some information not known to the rest of us. I think that if State funding happened, Buncher would still be in it.
snowsmith - DCSki Supporter
August 4, 2008
Member since 03/15/2004 🔗
1,367 posts
It seems more than a coincidence that Buncher's decision to forgoe operating LM and the hiring of Scott Bender at HV are occuring similtaneously.
hockeydave
August 4, 2008
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
I seriously doubt that Bender had anything to do with the decision to back out, although he may have given his 2 cents. Ultimately, Buncher made the decision to back out because the state didn't dole out the necessary cash to upgrade Laurel.
rjsherrin
August 5, 2008
Member since 09/28/2005 🔗
145 posts
I wish they would have settled this last winter so it wouldn't be August and the announcement comes that they are backing out. It is late in summer to get other parties looking to get it opened for this year. I like the old thinking of a co-op where no one wants to make a mint on it, only see it open and paying for itself. A grant would be nice to open it lein free. I hope that something happens before the quad and building are removed.
Leo
August 5, 2008
Member since 11/15/2005 🔗
279 posts
I wonder if a mountain bike park could fly. The vertical rivals some of the best known east coast mt bike parks (ie Diablo Freeride Park). And snow making becomes a non issue. The season is longer too. With the Forbes State Forest trail system right there, you would have a pretty amazing DH and XC combination.

I guess it would be nice to see this as a complementary function of Laurel being back open for skiing. It would give the resort year round potential.

I was definitely hoping for some skiing at Laurel this season. I think it's sad that a resource like Laurel Mt ski resort sits idle while the state CONSTANTLY wastes money on any variety of things.
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
August 5, 2008
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,859 posts
Leo, Laurel is restricted to winter operations only by the terms under which the State accepted the ski area as a gift from the Mellon family. The DCNR intends to honor that restriction. That is a big reason no private investors are forthcoming. That is why only the State could possibly fund the necessary improvements to make Laurel happen.

A three month, one attraction season will not turn a significant return. It probably could pay for itself if there were no huge debt to retire. Laurel generated about $1 million in revenue every year it operated beginning in 1999/2000 when George Mowl reopened. I'm fairly sure of this but I'll check my figures if I can find the source info from my time on Laurel's advisory board.
Leo
August 5, 2008
Member since 11/15/2005 🔗
279 posts
You can mountain bike in the winter!

But in all seriousness, thank you for the info. That pretty much rules out any mountain biking within the ski resort. It's sort of a strange contingency. Any idea why the Mellon family made the gift contingent on winter activities only?
rjsherrin
August 5, 2008
Member since 09/28/2005 🔗
145 posts
If I remember right, the opening year was about $600,000.00 income because it started late and then it went up to about 1.2 million and came down a little after that. 3 months of activity can make it as long as there is not much debt.
snowsmith - DCSki Supporter
August 5, 2008
Member since 03/15/2004 🔗
1,367 posts
I was trying to think of another ski area/resort that can only rely on revenue during the winter months. Roundtop does not have a golf course, hotel or mtn biking. They do have paint ball. Timberline does not have a golf course or a hotel, but they do sell real estate. Ski Liberty, I believe the Carrol Valley Resort is under separate ownership. So I guess it is possible to make money off of skiing alone. I would think that Laurel would need a substantial night skiing operation populated with Pittsburghers. Roundtop and Liberty do it, so why not Laurel?

I say advertise the place for leasing proposals. This wouldn't cost the State anything and could provide revenue. Award the lease to whomever proposes the best value to the State (money and proposed improvements). It's really that simple. That's what the WV state parks (Canaan, Blackwater,etc) do. The lease money could pay for the initial improvements financed by the State which would make it a viable ski area. Wake up PA!!
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
August 5, 2008
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,859 posts
Snowsmith, Laurel has no overnight lodging on premises as per the same agreement. So that leave snow sport plus restaurant and bar revenue only.

My guess is the Mellon family made these restrictions because they live nearby and wish to maintain their privacy.

Yes, you would wonder why the state doesn't actively bid out the lease. Probably because thy would still have to upgrade the facility meaning we are right back where we are now.

Do the operators of WVA facilities within the State Parks own the facilities they operate or does the State? In other word does West Virginia own all the assets at Canaan Valley (lifts, snow making, lodge, groomers, etc.)or is does lessee own them?
snowsmith - DCSki Supporter
August 5, 2008
Member since 03/15/2004 🔗
1,367 posts
I believe the state owns them. They just advertised for a new operations contract at Canaan and the previous lessee operator sure ain't taking the lifts and snow making with them.
rjsherrin
August 5, 2008
Member since 09/28/2005 🔗
145 posts
One possibility for Laurel is there are 10 acres at the entrance to the slopes that were zoned for a motel. A motel could be built there or possibly even on the 12 acres in the Village where the restaurant was located a long time ago. I don't know the zoning rules, but when I asked years ago to put in lodging, I was told it would probably be allowed. The pool and tennis courts need rebuilt. The are a lot of hiking trails there along with mountain bikes. Could Linn Run be open for hikers in the off season?
I also heard a golf course would be permitted if done right.
I feel it has potential, but it is risky without the state.
imp
August 5, 2008
Member since 01/11/2007 🔗
238 posts
There was a meeting today in Somerset between the Governer
and a save Laurel mountain group.
They told the Gov. that they wanted the funding appropriated and the Laurel Mountain State park to not be the only state park in the state that was closed.
He promised to get back to them in a few days after he investigates what is going on. He did tell them to take their concerns to DCNR

imp
hockeydave
August 5, 2008
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
Do you know who and/or how many people comprised the "Save Laurel Mountain Group"? I'm assuming state pols & county commissioners were the only ones granted an audience with Gov Ed.

Also, one wonders at this point if it's not too late, given that ST has got to be looking to unload the ski area assets and that Buncher has already pulled out and probably won't come back unless they're begged to do so.
rjsherrin
August 5, 2008
Member since 09/28/2005 🔗
145 posts
I am interested in this group also. Does anyone have any information on it? This is the first I've heard of it. If the funding is appropriated, I think there would be interest in the venture. In the past, I've taken my concerns to DCNR but I couldn't get any information or answers. It was all hush hush.
imp
August 5, 2008
Member since 01/11/2007 🔗
238 posts
the people were all local non politicians, aged from 20 to 70.
5 were in the bus for 15 minutes with the Gov. and then 15 min with his aide.. ask the retired ski shop lady she skipped tennis for the meeting...
Buncher is out for the 2008-9 season with hope for next.
there might be other players especialy if the money comes.


imp
hockeydave
August 5, 2008
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
That's pretty cool that these people were not pols. All of the emails and letter writing might have been noticed after all in Harrisburg.
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
August 5, 2008
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,859 posts
Wow imp, that's great news. If you have the pull, I'd sure like to be a part of that group.
RobertW
August 5, 2008
Member since 10/14/2004 🔗
199 posts
 Originally Posted By: Laurel Hill Crazie
Leo, Laurel is restricted to winter operations only by the terms under which the State accepted the ski area as a gift from the Mellon family. The DCNR intends to honor that restriction.


I seem to remember that Mowl operated the area's double chair on weekends the summer after that first winter season. I know they rented "Mountain Boards" and I think I remember seeing Mountain Bikes going up the double. I spent two wonderful summer days that year hiking down through the woods and riding the chair back up for $3. Why did the DCNR look the other way then?

http://web.archive.org/web/20000824125922/www.skilaurelmountain.com/rates.htm
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
August 5, 2008
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,859 posts
That is a very good question. I belong to an organization whose purpose is to support and promote PA State Parks and Forest through local Friends Groups. One summer the PA Parks and Forest Foundation along with the Keystone Trail Association ran a guided hiking program and secured permission to camp at the ski area. The event was a pilot event with limited publicity. It went well but the next summer the DCNR refused to grant permission to camp.

I think that some of the concerts and activities that Mowl ran during the summer were not well received by the neighbors. Most of the private investors that looked at Laurel had hopes to run activities in the off season. I think the DCNR shutting down summer activities was their way of emphasizing that they intend to honor the original agreement.
RobertW
August 6, 2008
Member since 10/14/2004 🔗
199 posts
I realize an agreement is an agreement but this was implemented in what, 1964? This was an era when a ski area could reasonably operate as a winter-only operation. One need only to look at the long list of winter-only operations that now populate the lost area section of this website to realize that there is no way that Laurel can operate viably as a winter-only area. Laurel seems doomed as a recreational asset if the DCNR and the Mellon family cannot come to some reasonable agreement about modifying the original target use of the area to year-round.
rjsherrin
August 6, 2008
Member since 09/28/2005 🔗
145 posts
I was told by a good source that a golf course could be put in. The hard part of it was the ground. They asked to put down some type of ash and the DCNR said no. I don't know much about the agreement. If people can only use it 3 months a year and it is locked up 9 months a year, it doesn't sound much like a State Park.
hockeydave
August 6, 2008
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
Could all of this nonsense be extrapolated to explain why the youth of the state are flocking out of here ASAP to find good employment?

This is why PA is the Mississippi of the North.

You've got old money and old people, and I don't necessarily mean age, I mean mentality, making decisions. Rant over.
skibum
August 6, 2008
Member since 12/3/2007 🔗
79 posts
is there any thing left we can do? it will be 10 years 1999 when Laure reopen. ski bum
imp
August 7, 2008
Member since 01/11/2007 🔗
238 posts
There is not realy any suitable land for a golf course.
Even in the village the total usable land would lead to a short 9 holer. Swamp land and rock ledges are the only flat spots..
THe bike rental went well till someone rode thru some private land in Rolling rock, turns out those riders were not from Laurel but locals who actualy were with a club member..
I will post the response that comes from the meeting with the gov. and his top people as soon as they respond

imp
imp
August 8, 2008
Member since 01/11/2007 🔗
238 posts
THe mayor of Ligonier just got a phone call from Govenor Rendell
stating that the money allocated for Laurel Mountain will be forthcoming. Yes He said we got the funds!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
This does not mean the area will be open this season, as there is a lot to do but who knows??

imp
comprex
August 8, 2008
Member since 04/11/2003 🔗
1,326 posts
 Originally Posted By: imp
THe mayor of Ligonier just got a phone call from Govenor Rendell
stating that the money allocated for Laurel Mountain will be forthcoming. Yes He said we got the funds!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
This does not mean the area will be open this season, as there is a lot to do but who knows??

imp


WOOOT!
rjsherrin
August 8, 2008
Member since 09/28/2005 🔗
145 posts
That makes my weekend. Who gets the funds? Is Buncher back in? Is a CO-OP probable? I would love to see it working this year.
Edgar3
August 8, 2008
Member since 05/29/2007 🔗
149 posts
Wow, great news!
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
August 8, 2008
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,859 posts
Imp, imp, you made my day, my year, my decade. Yeehaw!!!! I guess we had a little impact after all and thank the local folks there for going out to Somerset and buttonholing the Governor. Especially that retired ski shop lady and I hear there was a former Laurel manager's wife there too. I could kiss both of them. Rendell is alright by me.

Thanks all you DCskiers for writing, I'm sure that helped.

Wow, wow, get Tom Balestrieri on the phone.


imp
August 8, 2008
Member since 01/11/2007 🔗
238 posts
The Mayor already called Tom and he was calling the bank..
I do not know where this will lead but am very hopeful but doubt it for this year

imp
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
August 8, 2008
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,859 posts
This year could be a real reach. I wouldn't want to see Laurel opened until all the improvements are made. If all the money is coming Laurel could finally realize its full potential. I think 30,000 visit a year are easily within reach. So many people know so little about the terrain at Laurel. I hope with all the chatter here that folks will be curious and give us a try because if there is snow cover on the entire mountain I know they'll be back.
WPABoarder
August 10, 2008
Member since 01/20/2006 🔗
22 posts
I guess a big question is how much are people going to be willing to pay for a weekend lift ticket? If it didn't make a profit previously and wages, utilities and fuel costs have risen significantly since it last operated, how much more would one be willing to pay for limited begginer and intermediate terrain and only two chair lifts?
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
August 10, 2008
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,859 posts
WPABoarder, I'm not sure how to respond. First question that comes to mind is have you ever been to Laurel? If yes then you should know that there is a good percentage of terrain in the intermediate range and even most of Broadway is low intermediate, easy enough for wedge or wide track parallel, sorry for the skier based reference. Innsbruck is a great beginner trail, better then most at 7S and comparable to Mambo at BK. Dream Highway is a great upper intermediate run, Upper Wildcat a solid intermediate along with most of the terrain over by the double.

As you know, what's lacking is snowmaking. If the Governor is releasing the all the funds listed in the capital project's budget (6.5M) then snowmaking will no longer be an issue. Lift capacity should also be addressed. This is just guessing at this point but I can't imagine what infrastructure improvements (capital budget headings under which Laurel is listed) could otherwise mean.

For all we know only enough cash maybe approved to bring Laurel back to the same configuration under which it operated last in 2005. In which case your concerns are valid. Until there is an official announcement nobody can answer your questions. Cost of a lift ticket is a big question for all the reasons you listed.

A lot depends on how it is funded, if operations are expected to pay back the money from the State or if this money is seen as a capital improvement for Laurel Mountain State Park which is the ski area. All infrastructure would be owned by the State combined with Buncher officials saying they would operate Laurel as a community service (if that's the case, and I understand that it is) then my hope is cost can be kept low so that more people can enjoy the use of a State Park facility.

There are a lot of ifs and nobody posting here is in a position to answer definitively but it sure is interesting to speculate based on what public statements were made. Keep in mind there is no official word about funding, when it will happen, and how much there might be.
skibum
August 10, 2008
Member since 12/3/2007 🔗
79 posts
imp thanks i know you have work hard. Common sense told us not to keep our hopes up for Laurel to come back. But our hearts would not let the old girl die. "It has been my experience that faith is rarely rewarded but our faith is always tested." - Winston Churchill. I think our faith has been rewarded. To all those who have worked hard, keeping the faith has paid off. Our finest hour. thanks to all who kept the fath and see you on lower wild cat ski bum
hockeydave
August 10, 2008
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
Listen, I hate to be a wet blanket, because as most of you who have read this thread know, I want to see Laurel reopened in the worst way. But based on past history and the fact that a politician (Gov Ed) made a phone call to a local champion of Laurel (mayor of Ligonier) doesn't mean much to me until I see infrastructure at Laurel being recovered and renovated. Believe it or not, politicians are notorious for breaking promises (e.g. the recent indiscretions of John Edwards and George Bush with the infamous "Read My Lips, No New Taxes"). So I'm hopeful, but still very dubious until the money is actually made available, work commences and skiing happens.
JimK - DCSki Columnist
August 11, 2008
Member since 01/14/2004 🔗
2,726 posts
I was in the area yesterday and stopped by to visit Laurel Mtn. It was a gorgeous day, cotton candy clouds floating in a deep blue sky. 5PM temps felt around 65-70 degs. Had to walk about 2/3 mile past closed gate to get to ski bldgs. I was surprised at how good things looked. I know lifts and mechanical eqmt need more repair than meets the eye, but lodge looked like it could be opened for business tomorrow. Can anyone help me identify the runs, lifts and buildings I took in the attached photos? Three cheers for Gov Ed. Laurel Mountain Lives!!

http://www.snowjournal.com/page.php?cid=gallery6067
LMV
August 11, 2008
Member since 06/1/2005 🔗
60 posts
DSCF4392.JPG is snow bowl it leads to the top of dream highway
DSCF4396.JPG is a beginner area that 7S set up and never used the run under the quad is lincoln highway
DSCF4403.JPG is upper broadway.
The building is the lodge, if you go down over the hill in the parking lot you see the maintenance building and the ski patrol. We were in the lodge for patrol training last fall and everything was still the way it was when it closed.
imp
August 12, 2008
Member since 01/11/2007 🔗
238 posts
Actualy 4403 is tamecat the beginner slope below the lodge.
if a cat has 9 lives does it return to 9 during a rebirth??
hope so!!
imp
Edgar3
August 12, 2008
Member since 05/29/2007 🔗
149 posts
I agree with hockeydave that we can truely believe it when we see it. The fact that it hasn't hit the newspapers tells me that this may not be a done deal.

This will likely spark a storn of criticism, but I think that there are still a good number of questions to be answered. Don't get me wrong, as a skier I very much want to see Laurel to be opened, but at the same time it needs to be in such a way that is sustainable for years into the future. At this point, it seems like the area has only proven to consistantly support 1 ski resort (7S). From that perspective, I would be intersted in hearing about:

- What happens if the operator cannot break even operating Laurel?
-What length of time commitment will there be to operate it and give things a chance
- To what degree will Laurel increase the total skiers in the area, vs divert the same skiers from other resorts?
- What are the plans and commitments for transportation between other resorts to draw skiers from areas with lodging and other activities
- How can this be tied into a broader initiative to get more visitors to the Laurel Highlands, such as Amtrack to Rockwood, transportation between all resorts, etc.

In some respects I would be happier to see Gov Ed provide just 5M to Laurel, and use the other 1.5M to open the Rockwood Rail Station and provide subsidy for transport between it and all 3 areas. It is more skiers that will make this successful, not just more ski areas.
scootertig
August 12, 2008
Member since 02/19/2006 🔗
365 posts
I know it's a rather inconsequential data point, but I would love to not have to ski at Seven Springs. In fact, I can say that I would welcome the opportunity to ski anywhere other than 7S. It would increase the number of visits I make each year, rather than just divert visits I would otherwise have made...

aaron
snowsmith - DCSki Supporter
August 12, 2008
Member since 03/15/2004 🔗
1,367 posts
As a engineer who works on lots of public works type projects, let me lay out the scenerio and time table here. Of course this is just my guestimate and assumes some one has done a study to determine what they need the $6.5 million for:
1) State issues a request for expression of interest from engineering firms to do the design of the improvements. Firms respond and then a committee reviews the expressions of interest to select firms who are qualified to submit proposals (5-6 months)
2) State sends out the RFP to the selected firms who then prepare cost and technical proposal to address the RFP requirements. A committee reviews the proposals (2 - 6 months)
3) Engineer prepares designs for the improvements which goes through multiple submissions, permit applications, etc. 6 - 12 months)
4) Improvement project is advertised for bids. Low bidder usually gets selected and then needs to go through the 'award process'. (3 - 6 months).
5) Contractor build improvements ( 6 - 12 months).

So you see it could take 22 to 42 months just to get the improvements built using the public procurement process.

See you in 2011.
hockeydave
August 12, 2008
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
If it's 2011, then it will be never. If it's not 2009, it ain't happenin'.

I'm keeping my expectations very low by assuming the money isn't coming, because that's probably what will end up happening due to double speaking politicians and move-at-a-snail's-pace bureaucrats.

I'm not doubting anybodys' posts so far wrt Gov Ed calling the Ligonier Mayor and promising $$$. I know that that event did in fact happen. Until an official announcment is made by Gov, DCNR & future operator, then I might start to believe. But like I said before, I'll officially get off of the "Disbeliever Bandwagon" when I'm skiing @ Laurel.
lmmlaw
August 13, 2008
Member since 03/3/2008 🔗
18 posts
I wonder if it's worthwhile emailing Larry Walsh, the snow reporter at the PG, to see what he has heard/knows/may be able to find out?

lwalsh@post-gazette.com
JimK - DCSki Columnist
August 13, 2008
Member since 01/14/2004 🔗
2,726 posts
BTW, my visit last Sunday to LM was the first time ever. The main summit lodge looked newish, in better shape then many an "operating" lodge I've seen. When was it built?
LMV
August 13, 2008
Member since 06/1/2005 🔗
60 posts
it was built in 1999, when laurel re-opened.
LMV
August 13, 2008
Member since 06/1/2005 🔗
60 posts
it looks like it won't be long before this post passes the Hidden Valley post for number of views!!
snowsmith - DCSki Supporter
August 13, 2008
Member since 03/15/2004 🔗
1,367 posts
Scott deleted thousands of posts when the Kettler's objected to the negativity of the content. So unofficially, this post probably would never surpase the HV post.
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
August 13, 2008
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,859 posts
The only thing Larry Walsh would know is what he has read here. The info you are reading has not been official but is from reliable folks. What has been confirmed is the Mayor did get a call from the Governor in which the Governor said that Laurel's infrastructure improvements will be funded. There were no specifics as to when and how much.

The Governor will be in Pittsburgh tomorrow for the ground breaking for the Penguins new arena. I hope he'll make a stop in Ligonier and hand a big check to Mayor Bellas, Senators White and Kasunic.
hockeydave
August 18, 2008
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
It's been awfully quiet since the original posts about Gov Ed promising the $$$$ for Laurel. Anybody hear anything new?

There are 3 certainties in life; death, taxes & politicians breaking promises. I'm convinced the state is going to F' this up. They already looked a gift horse in the mouth over the past several months and rudely declined. I'm convinced it will happen again @ Laurel.

All one needs to do is examine the mess the state gaming board created with the slots parlor in Pittsburgh as an example of how bureaucrats and politicians can throw a monkeywrench in a no-brainer. Mario Lemieux & company were teamed up with a legit casino company (Isle of Capri) that would have built a new arena with their own coin if awarded the slots license and yet the state choses a candidate who did not have the financial resources and now is being bailed out by some other gent and may eventually be paid for by taxpayers.

http://www.wpxi.com/target11/17171681/detail.html

I'm extremely proud (tongue firmly planted in cheek) to be a resident of the only state in the union where this kind of crap can happen. That's why I have serious doubts about the future of Laurel.
Edgar3
August 18, 2008
Member since 05/29/2007 🔗
149 posts
Have not heard anything. I have googled for info based on the last week of updates, and nothing other than what is here in DCSki.
LMV
August 19, 2008
Member since 06/1/2005 🔗
60 posts
GGNagy
August 19, 2008
Member since 01/5/2006 🔗
451 posts
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
August 19, 2008
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,859 posts
Well, I'm hopping happy to see some official news.

Interesting mention of 'a number' of other operators. I wonder who else could be in the mix. I hope Buncher gets the lease. If not for their interest in the project I doubt a lot of local pols would have joined the effort. I doubt the DCNR would even be on board with this. The Buncher Company gave real credibility to those of us who have insisted that Laurel is viable, not to mention time effort and money they've also invested. It would be a shame if Buncher were not to get the lease.

Who ever is awarded the lease I hope all you DCSki snow bunnies give Laurel a try. If there is 100% snow making Laurel can provide a weekend's worth of fun. I'll be first in line to buy a season's pass for me and my family.

Now I'm asking all that have e-mail Governor Rendell to send some thank you letters. Senators White dwhite@pasen.gov and Kasunic should also be contacted.

Also, so far unmentioned but probably the biggest Laurel Mountain booster among the public officials working to make this happen, Mayor Butch Bellas of Ligonier. You can send him a note at:

Mayor Bellas
Town Hall
120 East Main Street
Ligonier, PA 15658


Most of all thank all of you who have taken the time to join our effort and thanks to Scott and DCSki.com for the cyber-space to help make this happen.

When Laurel opens, look for a DCSki get together like the Blue Knob event last season. I'll be happy to show you all the goods.
snowsmith - DCSki Supporter
August 19, 2008
Member since 03/15/2004 🔗
1,367 posts
I am still wondering how they determined that $6.5 million was needed. Usually there is some kind of a feasibility study to assess what needs to be replaced, new construction, etc. I wonder if the Buncher's consultants from Vermont and Salt Lake City were involved.
skibum
August 19, 2008
Member since 12/3/2007 🔗
79 posts
GOING HOME!!!! god is a skier. skibum
LMV
August 20, 2008
Member since 06/1/2005 🔗
60 posts
snowsmith - DCSki Supporter
August 20, 2008
Member since 03/15/2004 🔗
1,367 posts
They went around the State and got an agreement with the Bank! Very smart.So much for Buncher operating LM. Now ...will they open this year????? Afer all the Bank owns the lease.
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
August 20, 2008
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,859 posts
Wow, where has Bob Nutting been all this time? I wonder what the DCNR has to say about this. Somerset owns the assets but the DCNR must ok the lease transfer.

I don't know if this is good news or bad news.

Good, if they're sincere in their interest. We must wait and see.
hockeydave
August 20, 2008
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
I didn't necessarily get a positive vibe from this article. I may be reading too much into this, but this statement gives me pause...

"We look forward to partnering with the DCNR and the State to greatly enhance the infrastructure of the resort and create a great recreation opportunity for the community. Their collective support is critical to this project."

What happens if someone from the State & the DCNR does not share Mr. Nutting's vision or he perceives he doesn't have the collective support. Can he just pull out? We'll see what happens. Needless to say, I should be very happy, but for now, I'm still somewhat skeptical.
jimmy
August 20, 2008
Member since 03/5/2004 🔗
2,650 posts
Think about it this way hockeydave last time 7 Springs operated it the Dupre's were on their way out and Laurel didn't enhance the value of Seven Springs? Nutting seems to be in this for the long haul and if anyone can figure out a way to make money there they can. Don't know if that's better or worse than Buncher, but this is definitly better than what we had last year.
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
August 20, 2008
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,859 posts
Just seems like cherry picking. Buncher does all the work and Bob sneaks into the back door without an agreement with the state. I'm with Dave on this, more than a little skeptical but I'll try to keep an open mind.
hockeydave
August 20, 2008
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
I agree Jimmy, definitely better than last year. If Mr. Nutting bought the Laurel Mountain Village assets (Somerset Trust owned vacant lots) as part of the deal, then I'll be a little more inclined to believe he's in it for the long haul.
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
August 20, 2008
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,859 posts
There sure are a lot of anonymous viewers look at this thread. I wonder who it could be?????

Come on and register and talk with us.
Heather
August 20, 2008
Member since 02/24/2005 🔗
170 posts
http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/08233/905860-100.stm

Just another Pittsburgh News Paper article. I would like to see/hear what Somerset Trust has to say as there is no spokesperson statement in either article.
jb714
August 20, 2008
Member since 03/4/2003 🔗
294 posts
This situation has taken so many twists and turns that I simply don't know what to make of it. I felt that when 7 Springs operated LM last time (2004-2005) that they did so at least in part to curry favor with the State in the hopes of getting a slots license -but of course that was under different ownership. I certainly hope that their motivation this time is geared towards actually making a good-faith effort at operating LM, as opposed to simply keeping it out of Buncher's hands.

If nothing else, I think this may speak volumes about the improving picture for skiing in the Laurel Highlands. Two years ago we had one family that seemed to have a fair amount of infighting (Dupre/Shujansky), and another 'family' (Kettler) who were running HV into the ground and clearly had no interest in winter sports. THose two families have been replaced by two organizations that are motivated and have at least moderately deep pockets.
Leo
August 20, 2008
Member since 11/15/2005 🔗
279 posts
I cannot help but think that part of their motivation has to be keeping Buncher from having the terrain to have an operation that competes with Springs as a SKIING resort. You can't create terrain. It's really the only thing Buncher cannot correct at HV. Just my two cents. If Nuttings operate LM, then it really doesn't matter what their reasons are.
hockeydave
August 20, 2008
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
I know its only about 5 hours since the news broke, and this is probably more nitpicking on my part, but not a mention on the 7S website about this news. If it was a big deal to them, you think that at the very least they would have issued some sort of press release, or a link to it, on their website.
hockeydave
August 20, 2008
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
Informal poll: what do you think the chances are that the stars will align (i.e. state comes through with the funding, 7S actually follows through on its commitment, etc.) that Laurel will open by 2009-2010. My guess, at this point in time, is around a 20% chance.
Edgar3
August 20, 2008
Member since 05/29/2007 🔗
149 posts
Unbelievable. With the exodus of key management from 7S to Buncher, Bob Nutting must be on a rampage trying to trip up Buncher. I'm still waiting to hear about what length of time either will commit to to make it sucessful.
RobertW
August 20, 2008
Member since 10/14/2004 🔗
199 posts
There is a press release at the 7 Springs site....

http://7springs.com/page/content.detail/id/5348.html?nav=5117
RobertW
August 20, 2008
Member since 10/14/2004 🔗
199 posts
I'm as cynical as the next guy but sheesh....

Why is 7 Springs all of a sudden the Microsoft of Mid-Atlantic skiing? Buncher walked away from the deal.

I for one am happy that a first class ski operator has stepped up to the plate. I just remember to temper my enthusiasm with the fact that Nutting, Buncher nor God himself is not going to operate this place unless Uncle Ed comes through on his promise.
spinoza
August 20, 2008
Member since 08/9/2008 🔗
1 posts
I really hope this happens.I've never skied at Laurel Mt. but after all I've read about it , I really want to .
hockeydave
August 20, 2008
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
I guess all of the promises made and all of the promise unkept by Seven Springs 4 years ago linger. I know, I know, Dupres out, Nuttings in, but still my doubts about their true LONG TERM intentions will linger.
RobertW
August 20, 2008
Member since 10/14/2004 🔗
199 posts
I feel your doubts hockeydave (I have lived in PA all my life) but we have to look at some facts. Running an area like Laurel Mountain, an area that has no lodging or other Winter/Summer amenities, is going to be a year-to-year thing no matter who the operator is. Buncher's interest in "operating the area as a public service" sounded short term to me, not unlike what we heard from 7Springs when they operated the area in 2004-05. I think that those of us who support the reopening of Laurel Mountain should keep the pressure up to insure that the Governor follows through with the improvements and that the area gets open. We can worry about the long term issues after that, such as the Mellon imposed restrictions on development and summer use. As it is, if I get another year of skiing in at Laurel, similar to the year that 7Springs made possible in 04-05, that would be better than the big zero we have now.
The Colonel - DCSki Supporter
August 20, 2008
Member since 03/5/2004 🔗
3,107 posts
Interesting quote in the second newspaper article: "Now that it has an agreement with Somerset Trust, Seven Springs has to obtain a long-term lease from the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to operate the ski area".
A "LONG TERM LEASE" should offer stability, especially if there is not an easy out clause! Hopefully Seven Springs op of this area will not negate their eventual development of there on "western territory", behind the top of the new six pack.
The Colonel \:\)
hockeydave
August 21, 2008
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
These are my final comments on the situation at hand (of course, when more official info becomes available, I'll chime in):
1) Had Buncher not become interested in operating Laurel as a "community service" last winter, Seven Springs wouldn't have even bothered knocking at Somerset Trust's or the DCNR's door. This stuff happens every day in business, but it still makes me feel uneasy about their TRUE intentions.
2) I know a little more than I can divulge, but Buncher did have a long term interest in Laurel. Given their short and stellar track record at Hidden Valley, there probably wouldn't have been a better caretaker at Laurel. And as Leo pointed out in a previous post, Buncher can't create terrain, which Laurel has.
3) Bob Nutting is an avid skier. I hope that IF he reopens Laurel, he will realize what a gem he has and decides it is worth his money and his staff's time and energy.
4) I agree with The Colonel that the eventual lease Seven Springs sign with the DCNR should have a heavy financial penalty for lease termination.
5) An investment by Seven Springs in the adjacent Laurel Mountain Village would definitely help allay my concerns for their long term interest in Laurel.
JimK - DCSki Columnist
August 21, 2008
Member since 01/14/2004 🔗
2,726 posts
The opening paragraph in this 8/21/08 article from Firsttracks.com is the most optimistic public statement I've seen yet that Laurel Mtn will be open for ski business this winter: http://www.firsttracksonline.com/index.php?name=News&file=article&sid=4764

PS: just read the new DCSki article published today on this same topic. Not to pick favorites, but believe Scott has done a better job at recapping a very volatile story and probably was wise not to imply immediate ski operations likely.
Heather
August 21, 2008
Member since 02/24/2005 🔗
170 posts
I would like to personally thank Scott for the outstanding article on LM. He even got a quote from Somerset Trust. Way to go! It is no wonder why DCSki is where I always go to get the latest skiing news for the Mid Atlantic.

Scott, Thanks again!
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
August 21, 2008
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,859 posts
Thanks for the story, Scott. It is the best article yet on the current situation at Laurel.

JimK, don't read too much into the First Tracks article. There is no word from the DCNR about a lease agreement, no word from the Governor's office on a funding time line. I hope that if Laurel is to open this year it would be with all improvements in place.

I agree with Dave's opinion that if not for Buncher's interest we would not be here today but as he said, this type of thing goes on in business all the time. My concern is that Laurel be done right this time. It will be up to us to ensure that happens.

First and foremost is we must open or wallets and support with our dollars. Next we must insists that the State provides oversight so that a realist business plan guided by an expertly crafted master plan is in place. If $6.5M of tax payer money is in play this must be done right with a full commitment to success.

Laurel can be much more then a local ski area. If the scope is only to refurbish what is already there then Laurel will be doomed again. I hope the DCNR take a strong hand in planning for success and holds the eventual leaser's feet to the fire with strict time commitments and stiff financial penalties. If the State is to own all the asset's then there should be no debt to retire. The DCNR should not tolerate any half hearted attempt to operate Laurel and should not be complicit in limiting competition in the local winter sport industry.

If Seven Springs and Bob Nutting is serious about Laurel then I will lend my wholehearted support. If this is a transparent move to blunt competition and ultimately ruin Laurel then it is incumbent on all of us that have lobbied on Laurel's behalf to hold them accountable. Do not fall into the false mind set that this is private enterprise. It will be a publicly funded State Park facility and as such we will have the right to be heard.

Here's a link to an article by A.J.Panian from the tribune-Review:

Laurel may get $6.5M
lmbunny
August 22, 2008
Member since 08/22/2008 🔗
1 posts
I agree with the last statment - if the Nuttings are serious about the future of the laurel Mountain Ski Resort they would need to invest their money today and start preparing the facility to open this winter. If they are only positioning themselves to keep out the competition, it may never open. We have seen what they did to the Pittsburgh Pirates - not a winning team. They just don't spend the money needed to support the team, why think anything differant when it comes to LM.
SwissMountain
August 22, 2008
Member since 05/18/2007 🔗
66 posts
In my opinion the Nutting Family are acting in the best interest for the LM resort, its guest, and the community. You mentioned the Pirates - The family just took majority control of the Pirates a couple of years ago. For any successful outcome the planning process takes time. We all want a great LM ski resort. Breeding and feeding takes time. Destructive business practices can take the air out of it very quickly but to build quality takes time. Just look at Seven Springs Mountain Resort - improvements all over the mountain and lodge. We are not even talking about new projects. The Nuttings fixing what should have been done the last few years. They are for real guys. I life at the bottom of LM and never did ski the mountain - I would like to.
Leo
August 22, 2008
Member since 11/15/2005 🔗
279 posts
Also, let's not confuse the issue. The Pittsburgh Pirates are a successful business. They make money losing, thanks to revenue sharing.

Fortunately, the ski industry does not work that way. You can only lose money somewhere for so long before operating the resort is no longer viable.

I guess the reason I have some suspicions about their intentions with Laurel Mt is that I ask my self, what do they have to gain? And I don't have a great answer. I guess keeping a competitor from leveraging the resort to their own advantage is technically a "gain" for 7S. But I really cannot believe that they are sitting there looking at LM as a stand alone entity with enough (business) potential to make it worth their while. (I am not arguing the skiing potential, just the business). In other words, if no one else was interested in LM, Nuttings would not be. As an isolated business decision, it doesn't make sense.
rjsherrin
August 22, 2008
Member since 09/28/2005 🔗
145 posts
I think that with the 6.5 mil from the state, they have some repair and startup money. The last time they tried it, it was their money and a bad winter. I don't know if the agreement is like the Buncher proposal, where they buy the equipment from the bank and give it back to the State. In that case, the State would own all the property and Nutting would manage it. Hidden Valley is nice but doesn't have the long steep slopes. That's why I expected to see them take the money and start Laurel back up. From all that I have seen, without a large bank payment, there is a profit to be made. I can't wait to see it open again, especially if its for the long haul.
Does anyone know if they are buying the Village also? I haven't been up for a year and wondered if the water tower has been built. Again, does anyone know?
SwissMountain
August 22, 2008
Member since 05/18/2007 🔗
66 posts
I did not say that the ski industry and a professional baseball business operation are the same. You are missing the picture - They are not only increasing their business they are also building relationship FOR THE LONG RUN. A Seven Springs/LM ticket is the way to go. As long as LM breaks even no one would be upset.
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
August 22, 2008
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,859 posts
SwissM, I hope you're right about Bob Nutting being into this for the long run but the manner in which he injected himself into this process is suspect. He has been acting as though every thing is a done deal when in fact nothing has been forthcoming from the DCNR or the governor's office. Here's a link to a Post-Gazette article this morning:

State poised to make improvements at Laurel

Here's a partial quote from Susan Hooper, spokeswoman for the state Office of Budget:

....the money is available in the capital budget for release at Gov. Ed Rendell's discretion......The money won't be released until the lease agreement is worked out, funding to complete the work is secured and discussions about seasonal land-use restrictions are held with adjacent land owners, she said.

Bob Nutting appears to be exactly where the Buncher Company was last month, an agreement to buy the assets from Somerset Trust pending a lease agreement with the Commonwealth. Bob choose to make a big public slash with this tentative agreement to purchase and allows the perception that operation will commence this winter, all the while without a public acknowledgment from the DCNR that a lease deal has been reached. There may be a lot happening behind the scenes that isn't yet public but it just seems to me to be a short term opportunistic move. I hope and pray I'm wrong.

I have no doubt that he is acting in the long term interest of their primary investment that being Seven Springs. The question remains to be answered if he is looking out for the long term interest at Laurel. I don't think anybody can answer that now.

As for Laurel opening this season, well I'd love for that to happen but not as it was when last Laurel operated. The lifts were vandalized last fall. The double needs to be rebuilt or replaced, the quad repaired and inspected, snow making has to be increased. There is so much to do and so little time. I'd hate to see the money spent on overtime pay to contractors just to get operational this year.

On this I agree with SwissM: "Destructive business practices can take the air out of it very quickly but to build quality takes time."
Heather
August 22, 2008
Member since 02/24/2005 🔗
170 posts
I for one would like to see LM opened as it was. Let me clarify my statement by saying LM is NOT EVER going to be 7S or HV and I believe most would disappointed if that is the intention. Upgrades do indeed need to be made, however when it was last opened for business, it still had that rustic skiers' mountain feel to it. I would give my right and left arms to ski there again under any circumstances. If the UPGRADES cannot be made for this year, so be it, as long as it opens. So what if we don't get snowmaking or lighting on Dream Highway for this season, I will break out the old rock skis and gladly glide over "Rocky Corner". No snowmaking on Hagan's Cut, so what! Ski it if you can. I think you all get the point. I also am aware that much is needed to get the mountain skier ready as it has sat in a state of disrepair for far to long. BUT, if skiing one year on less than optimal conditions guarantees many years of upgrades and improvements in the future, COUNT ME IN! Upgrades would be great, but opening would still be the BEST.
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
August 22, 2008
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,859 posts
Heather, I share your enthusiasm but will the first time visitor? Or will the new visitor look around and say thanks but not again, there are only 2 ways down the mountain and no easy way for my kids.

Why make the same mistake twice?
Heather
August 22, 2008
Member since 02/24/2005 🔗
170 posts
How many UPGRADES were made to HV last year? Skiers number were up, I believe. Buncher did proper maintanence on the place and people came back. Many more will come back this year knowing that Buncher is moving forward with the upgrades. With as much as we complained about HV, how many of us skied there this past ski season despite our vowing to never ski there again? All in the hopes we could support them by, as you have put it, opening our wallets! How is it that philosophy worked for HV but not LM. All I am is after is having the new operator of LM throw us LM loyalist a bone and get the darn place open. I will gladly bring my wallet and open it up to ever cash register in the whole place as I have done in the past. As for a new visitor, I would hope that they could see the potential, aided by a plan in place,much like 7S had when they had hopes of a casino. I want drawings and plans and a timetable. If people want to ski they would choose LM, if people want the atmosphere, they can always have 7S or HV.


PS. I do not believe that the opening in 1999 was a mistake. I feel the mistake was made after the place opened and the old owners did not have the vision to upgrade and where content with the status quo. My son has been skiing there since he was 4 (now 13) when the place was opened. Where there is a will there is a way.
SwissMountain
August 22, 2008
Member since 05/18/2007 🔗
66 posts
I guess the way it looks like we might wait for 09-10 ski season. LM is what it is just like 7s & HV and we all can agree on that. I also know the entire snowmaking system has to be replaced due to high PSI on the lowest point of the pipe going down. The lifts, like you all know, need to be replaced. Slopes need to be added and the lodge improved.

In my opinion it would a good decision to re-open the resort the fallowing season unless Mr. Nutting has connection we don't know of - and believe me he has.

We all might be surprised what Seven Springs can do to make it work and kill the "R" word. They are here for good. I also agree that the Nuttings are in for the business but also for a good and healthy relationship with the state, county, community but foremost for its loyal guests - US.
The Colonel - DCSki Supporter
August 22, 2008
Member since 03/5/2004 🔗
3,107 posts
If the article from the newspaper in Laurel Hill Crazie's post is correct, there is a major glitch in the LH deal. Apparently there is only $1.5M of the $6.5M available from the state for the ski infrastructure. Barely enough for repairs, much less new lift, pond, snowmaking and trail expansion.
The Colonel \:\)
rjsherrin
August 22, 2008
Member since 09/28/2005 🔗
145 posts

PS. I do not believe that the opening in 1999 was a mistake.

I agree with you. The first year was a start up year where people learned it was open again. I didn't know until it was over. Word got out and the income doubled the second year. I was using a slope side condo at Hidden Valley and drove to Laurel every time the second year. Some of us love the peaceful slopes and relaxed atmosphere. The slopes are more challenging but I love the Lower Wildcat and the rubber legs that come at the bottom. I love the place and even if only the double is working the first year, I want a season pass.
hockeydave
August 23, 2008
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
Just a little more info in this article...

http://www.dailyamerican.com/articles/2008/08/22/news/news/news827.txt

I can only glean from all of the known information (newspapers, press releases) that is nowhere near a done deal.
WPABoarder
August 23, 2008
Member since 01/20/2006 🔗
22 posts
I am sure as well connected as the owners of Seven Springs are, they did their homework and knew that perhaps only $1.5 million might be available to renovate and rehabilitate the ski facilities as indicated in the Post-Gazette article. This should be enough to bring back the past ski experience many people apparently are looking for, especially if they are required to match the funds for the renovation and rehabilitation. This would represent a nice committment by Seven Springs. Since they previously operated LM I assume they have the old agreement that could be replicated. If they were to match the State investment, they perhaps could get some terrain easily open even if the States funds don't come till next year. Look what got done at HV and they acquired in September.

I am glad to see that $5 million is reportably to be allocated to the Park Restoration. Our State Parks are an important asset and are in desparate need of renovation and rehabilitation. The allocation in this manner seems reasonable since they are used by many mulitiples of what the ski facilities would.
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
August 23, 2008
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,859 posts
I beg to differ with Heather and rj. I think George Mowl's failure at Laurel was directly connected to the rush to open in 1999. God bless the man for trying, we all owe him at least a debt of gratitude. The facts remain that the double wasn't operational until well after the Christmas/New Year holidays. We all know how important that week is to the bottom line. The quad was never installed properly. No snow making on Innsbruck in the first years. (Added to upper Innsbruck the following season.) No snow making on Dream. Due to the location of the tubing park the lodge should have been moved uphill to create better traffic flow between the double and quad. These were my personal observations when I visited the site and I'm not an industry expert. The second water impoundment pond was never built and the first was not properly engineered. Also, much money spent was on overtime to meet goal of early opening, should have been spent on mountain improvements.

The next big mistake was to attempt summer operations. That's an easy call in retrospect but at the time it was only logical to seek year round revenue. Summer activities caused friction with the adjacent land owners. The end result was the DCNR shut down summer activities on the mountain and provisional permission was suspended for specific use. George lost a lot of cash on hand and created new debt all of which should have been saved for mountain improvements.

There was no lack of vision from George or his management team. There was lack of money and a realistic business plan guided by a professionally done master plan. When I joined the citizen's advisory board late that summer I learned that issues like snow making on Innsbruck were discussed and Dream Highway was a hope for the future. If anything George Mowl's reach exceeded his grasp. Those of us left on the advisory board had no or little experience to help guide him.

It is for these reason's I urge that tax payer resources be used wisely. If Seven Springs wants to rush to open with a large private investment, that's a different story. It will be their money to risk but if they fail, Laurel could ultimately wind up as another lost ski area and the Mid-Atlantic will be poorer because of it.

I want to find my challenge on Wildcat and spend more time on the trails skiing instead of waiting in lift lines as Laurel long trails provide. I want more than most to spend my dollars at Laurel this year but only if Laurel is done right so my children can find their passion and challenge there in the future.

I want this project to move forward as rapidly and prudently as possible. The DCNR must determine if Seven Springs and Laurel are the right fit. I hope that this will all work out and Bob Nutting is indeed "......pleased to have an opportunity to participate in this project." for the "So many people [who] have been actively involved in trying to reopen the resort to local skiers and visitors to the region, from the board members of Somerset Trust and the local community leaders to Governor Rendell's office and State legislators."
rjsherrin
August 24, 2008
Member since 09/28/2005 🔗
145 posts
George was a friend of mine and had his heart into the resort. The bank, Somerset Trust, gave him half the loan and left him hanging. He took the risk only to find he had half the money he needed. We need to remember that Laurel is a 3 month a year resort and if to much is invested it can't pay off. A co-op would have worked here is my opinion. There's not a mint to be made here. It's for people who like skiing without all the fancies of the neighboring big resorts. There are only certain people who like the drive to get to a wooded peaceful resort with no slope lodging. It's easy to say all the improvements need to be made when we don't have the liability on our shoulders. George took the risk, built it back up as far as he could, only to find half his loan never came in. It's easy to say don't open till next year when multi million dollar upgrades have been made, but will it bring enough people driving into a state park with no lodging to pay for itself. I skied there on weekends for the years George had it and never waited more than a couple of minutes in line. The one big issue is snow making. I would like to see it on all the slopes. This is a resort for people who like powder and steeper slopes. If it is open, I want a season pass even if only the double is open. I really miss this relaxing place and truly want to see it operating.
jb714
August 24, 2008
Member since 03/4/2003 🔗
294 posts
I'll be the first to admit that I haven't followed this as closely as have some of you, but it seems that the current situation is that 7 Springs has reached an agreement with Somerset Trust to operate LM, contingent on the Commonwealth releasing $6.5 million for improvements. Rendell has apparently made a verbal pledge to release the money, but nothing is official.

If I'm not mistaken, Buncher also had an agreement with the bank, and was also awaiting funding from the Commonwealth. So aside from the verbal commitment from Rendell, and a splashy press release from 7 Springs, how does the current situation differ from the Buncher offering?
Scott - DCSki Editor
August 24, 2008
Member since 10/10/1999 🔗
1,142 posts
 Originally Posted By: jb714
I'll be the first to admit that I haven't followed this as closely as have some of you, but it seems that the current situation is that 7 Springs has reached an agreement with Somerset Trust to operate LM, contingent on the Commonwealth releasing $6.5 million for improvements. Rendell has apparently made a verbal pledge to release the money, but nothing is official.


That seems like a fair read of the situation, based on what I've heard.

 Originally Posted By: jb714
If I'm not mistaken, Buncher also had an agreement with the bank, and was also awaiting funding from the Commonwealth. So aside from the verbal commitment from Rendell, and a splashy press release from 7 Springs, how does the current situation differ from the Buncher offering?


Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm not aware of a public pronouncement by Buncher Group indicating their commitment to operate Laurel Mountain contingent on Commonwealth funding, or indicating that they have an agreement with the bank.

I get the sense that many DCSki readers would like this to be the case, based on Buncher's successful track record so far with Hidden Valley Resort, but I have yet to see anything that points to more than simple consideration on the part of Buncher. One would expect that many companies have considered the situation. After all, Laurel has been on the block for years now.

The Seven Springs press release says that Seven Springs has reached an agreement with Somerset Trust Company, but that the agreement has not been finalized. That clause certainly adds some uncertainty, which is why DCSki's news coverage has a tentative tone and stopped short of implying that this is a done deal. There are still a lot of variables at play. However, the public statements from both Seven Springs and Somerset are clearly meant to imply that this agreement is expected to be finalized.

The terms of the agreement have not been made public, so it's impossible for us to know at this point if other companies would be precluded from also expressing their willingness to operate the area.

I do think it is unlikely that Laurel Mountain will re-open this winter. Barring a heroic last-minute effort, there just isn't much time left on the calendar to complete everything that would be required to make it happen.
jeffo4
August 24, 2008
Member since 08/24/2007 🔗
134 posts
Is it possible 7S just wanted to turn the buzz back in their favor and rushed to an announcement? After HV taking some staff and Buncher being the new darling in the area they need to do something to keep their current staff inplace and not make the jump to hv.
WPABoarder
August 24, 2008
Member since 01/20/2006 🔗
22 posts
I hope Seven Springs is sincere in their committment, but more importantly I hope the Govenor distributes the funds as has been indicated so that $5 million of the 6.5 million goes to improve the State Park. The $1.5 million remaining funds along with Seven Springs sincere interest ($$$) to re-open Laurel Mountain should be enough to bring back the historic no frills experience. That way if the attempt to revitalize the ski area would not be successfull, the Park will have at least been updated, which would be considered more important for most of the taxpaying public.
Edgar3
August 24, 2008
Member since 05/29/2007 🔗
149 posts
Let us not forget that Buncher did specifically do a press release stating that they were no longer interested in operating Laurel. That being the case, I suppose we should be happy that 7S did indeed show interest, because otherwise Laurel would be headed to the list of lost ski areas. There are many things we will likely never know: Was Buncher not happy with the level of state funding? Did they determine that it just wasn't a good business move. Was 7S willing to take less favorable terms from the state or outbid Buncher at Somerset Trust? To what degree did politics play a role? Is 7S not really sincere or in it for the long haul and simply trying to derail Buncher. I suppose we will never know.
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
August 24, 2008
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,859 posts
Good points, rj. Yes I now do recall that George was expecting more from the bank and once again you outline the most compelling reason for the State to make the investment to upgrade Laurel. If they intend to allow only winter use then the State should assume the responsibility to improve and upgrade the facility.

George took a huge risk and I understand it cost him more then money.That should not have had to happen but the world of business can be a harsh master. Everybody at Laurel work hard and with heart to make it happen. George was always on hand meeting guest and being positive. If that were only enough, if that were only enough.

I feel bad the the Buncher Company is out of the running. I think it would have been a great synergy. I hope Seven Spring works as hard to make Laurel a success if they get the lease. It would really up their skiing options with some real expert terrain.

Ultimately I would like to see all three Laurel Highland resorts share an interchangeable lift ticket and provide three way shuttles between the ski areas. I think that would be a great way to grow the market. It would offer the most diverse terrain and three distinct experiences and sharpen competition in the broader Mid-Atlantic market.
Scott - DCSki Editor
August 26, 2008
Member since 10/10/1999 🔗
1,142 posts
Not sure if anyone has posted a reference to this editorial yet, but if not:

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/opinion/archive/s_584463.html

This is an editorial from someone who argues against public funding being used to restart Laurel Mountain.
hockeydave
August 27, 2008
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
In the interest of full disclosure, my wife and I own a small cabin in Laurel Mountain Village and we both would love to see Laurel open again, with or without state funding.

Also, in the interest of full disclosure, which the Tribune-Review will never reveal to the unknowing, the man who owns the newspaper is part of the family that originally donated the Laurel ski area to the state and whose family owns most of the land below Laurel Mountain (probably hundreds if not thousands of acres), including the pristine & exclusive Rolling Rock Golf Course and a cherished fish hatchery. I'm sure they don't want their tranquility disturbed. I also understand they were concerned about run off from the ski area when George operated Laurel.

So if the Tribune Review edititorial board were upfront and stated the facts about their land ownership below Laurel and then made a case against state funding, I wouldn't have too much of a problem with the editorial. But without full disclosure, the edititorial, IMHO, is rubbish.
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
August 27, 2008
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,859 posts
The editorial argument about unconstitutional use of public money is classic sophistry. By their argument any marina or camp store at a State Park is unconstitutional use of public money. It is common practice to build these types of facilities which are wholly own by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and then leased to a private concessioner. Laurel Mountain State Park, which is the ski area and can only be a ski area will be no different in that regard. The facilities that the $6.5M will purchase will be owned by the State Parks not a private corporation. It is my understanding that this particular lease arrangement goes one step further by requiring the concessioner to contribute a significant amount toward the project making this the same type of public/private partnership which is being created to provide recreation opportunities through the Allegheny County Parks.

Dave, Mr. Scaife may be a part of the Mellon family who still makes their home at the foot of the mountain but don't jump to the conclusion that they are opposed to see their father's wishes fulfilled when R.K.Mellon made Laurel a gift to the State. My guess is this is more to do with a political agenda against Governor Rendell by Mr. Scaife and a continuation of a narrow ideologically motivated view that government should not be involved in this type of program.

In another classic political ploy the editorial board cites the very reason why Laurel should be publicly funded, that being the restrictions that make private investment so risky as proof that this project is not worthy. In my mind, if the State intends to honor the land use restriction then the State should lessen the financial risk.

I'll agree that the DCNR and the Mellon Foundation or the Rolling Rock Club, who ever the DCNR is accountable to in honoring the terms of the land use, should be talking about ending or modifying the restrictions so a concessioner will have the opportunity to earn a better profit and the citizens will have year round recreational use of the State Park.

Also, they insists that the project is not economically feasible yet they cite no business survey and provide anecdotal evidence on a selective historic narrative that is belied by the very fact that Seven Springs is back seeking to make money at an operation that they were suppose to have lost money on before. Perhaps Seven Springs knows something that the editorial board of the Tribune-Review does not.

I just sent a letter to the editor at the T-R using the above as my draft. I edited it down to 209 words in hopes that they'll print it all. Please note when I referred to the ski area I wrote Laurel Mountain State Park. If my letter is published my guess is they'll leave out the State Park to infer that Laurel is a wholly private operation.
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
September 1, 2008
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,859 posts
There have been a few things that I have been curious about since this the story broke about Seven Springs and Somerset agreement.

First there is this unattributed remark in an Aug. 18 Johnson Tribune-Review article by Kecia Bal between quotes from DCNR Press Secretary Christina Novak, "$6.5 million might fall short of what would be required to fully prepare the facilities."

Then over on DCSki there are post by Larry C, a long time instructor at the Springs that, "Doubt very much if it will open this 08-09 season....and then a lot can happen--Re: viz-a-viz state promised $$$.....even then 6.5 mill
state $$`s can`t be enought to make it viable......plus other input of $....".

Then later in that same thread our own Taylormatt post this, "As much as I would LOVE to see it open and stay open so I (we) had some interesting terrain to ski finally...I won't hold my breath. Too much red tape with the DCNR, Mellons, the engineering of water holding for snow making, the need for an updated snow making system, new lifts, lease restrictions, lack of lodging, etc. $15M minimum to update and remain open for a full season.......".

It all made me wonder what I'm missing. After some more asking around I learned that the lease arrangement the Buncher Company was working out with the DCNR had included a dollar for dollar match of State funds. It could explain the $15M figure Taylormatt proposes that he attributed to, "I know one of the guys who put a survey together for Buncher. $10-$15M needed. The State's $6.5M, from what I understand is less than half of what's needed for new lifts/improvements and full snow making. Without full snow making, it's pointless to try to even open. Who's kicking in the additional money? This survey was done 2 years ago, with price increases since then, I'd guess that realistic number has gone up another 15-20%." That from my Seven Springs to again operate Laurel thread over on EpicSki. Anybody know anything about this?


LMV
September 8, 2008
Member since 06/1/2005 🔗
60 posts
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
September 8, 2008
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,859 posts
Ashley Bressler got more quotes then any of the MSM but has a few factual errors namely Laurel being owned by Seven Springs but later identifying Laurel Mountain Ski Resort as being a State Park. A distinction that the G-Burg T-Review consciously blur. I think they got their google map wrong and flipped the locations of the Springs and the Mountain no mention of the Valley.

Interesting comments from the prez of the Ski Club and his impressions of Seven Springs. It's gotta be music to the Springs' ears.

Also interesting take from Springs' mouthpiece, Anna Weltz and I quote,

"With the possibility of Laurel Mountain opening, we're going to become a huge destination for people all over the area -- Columbus, Cleveland, Washington D.C., Baltimore, it will be a tremendous attraction."

I hope it is a reflection of the Springs' vision for Laurel. It makes me wonder, like Nittny Ski prez Brett Schrey has Bob Nutting ever skied Laurel Mountain?
jimmy
September 8, 2008
Member since 03/5/2004 🔗
2,650 posts
Originally Posted By: Laurel Hill Crazie

I hope it is a reflection of the Springs' vision for Laurel. It makes me wonder, like Nittny Ski prez Brett Schrey has Bob Nutting ever skied Laurel Mountain?


Maybe not Bob but I'll guarantee his father has.
hockeydave
September 11, 2008
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
Well, the initial buzz is gone after the 7S annoucement several weeks ago. Nobody knows what's happening, if anything is happening at all, with the negotiations between the state, the DCNR and 7S. The DCNR, with its entrenched bureaucrats, drug its feet for the past year when negotiating with Buncher and now that White Knight has departed. I sense there is no immediacy for any of the parties mentioned above, especially now with the ski season fast approaching. I still predict that those of us who love Laurel will rue the day that Buncher exited and Seven Springs stepped in. If anybody knows anything, please post.

Please remember all those who perished 7 years ago today and those who have subsequently died in service to the greatest country in history.
Crush
September 11, 2008
Member since 03/21/2004 🔗
1,026 posts
... since i'm already regarded as a smart-a$$ it won't hurt me much to point out that the first "country" in history was Mesopotamia, and while the USA is indeed a notable country in history, it is hardly the "greatest" in history.
Leo
September 11, 2008
Member since 11/15/2005 🔗
279 posts
Dumb a$$ may be more fitting, don't sell your self short.

I find no claim above that the US was the first "country" in history, so I am not sure what your point is about Mesopotamia.

And being sardonic about someone's own personal statement or tribute regarding 9/11 is unnecessary. Just my two cents.
hockeydave
September 17, 2008
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
The Colonel - DCSki Supporter
September 17, 2008
Member since 03/5/2004 🔗
3,107 posts
I am not sure if the "natural resources" portion of the PA budget is fenced or not. Regardless, I would think that most would agree that spending money to open a ski area would not rank as high as health, education, and many other potentially underfunded activities. I suspect that in the minds of most PA citizens the rebuilding a ski area is something that can wait a year or two while many personal services can ill afford less funding.
The Colonel
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
September 18, 2008
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,859 posts
This is a real concern. I read in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that Rendell has asked department heads to look at current projects and hold back 5%. It's not a cut at this time but he wants all departments to hold back 5% for now.

I posed the question before about info I heard that Buncher would match dollar for dollar the state grant but I've not heard if 7S deal will be the same. This could be the difference between being cut or moving forward. I would think if the lease would be a standard 10% of revenues back to the State we would have heard something by now.

I still can't help but feel that that the 7S offer is just a stall to kill the deal. If the state money disappears because of a budget crunch, Laurel is done.It has happened before.

Oh, my letter to the G-burg Trib was apparently round filed. I'm not surprised, they are more interested in their own political propaganda instead of the truth. Opposition to a project is fine and there are good arguments for that position but to call the grant a violation of the state constitution is pure BS.

What info can you share, Swiss Mountain. As ski school director you must have heard something by now.
hockeydave
September 19, 2008
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
I hate being pessimistic, but if I were working on the sale of Laurel Mountain for Somerset Trust, I would have someone else lined up to purchase the existing assets when this deal with 7S falls through, which I believe inevitably, it will. There is no way the state can justify spending $6.5 million on reopening a ski resort during what many perceive to be the toughest economic times since the '30s, even though the US economy is no where near the Great Depression... yet.

The state could get creative in funding this effort however: they could float a bond exclusively to fund Laurel with profits from the ski area used to repay the bond or give the lease to operate Laurel to 7S free of charge or give 7S tax breaks to operate Laurel or modify the existing ski area covenants or eliminate any state taxes assessed on any transactions to upgrade/operate Laurel (I'm making the assumption that every lift ticket purchased at any PA resort has a 6% tax built into it). Don't look for any of the above to happen or for that matter, anything that might be considered new.

I did hear from a very reliable source that 7S folks are going to meet with the LMV association at the ski lodge within 2 weeks to discuss issues with the Village, the existing covenants and restrictions; so that is at least somewhat good news. So it sounds like 7S is interested in the Village. But again, without state funding, the sale is nill, null & void.
rjsherrin
September 23, 2008
Member since 09/28/2005 🔗
145 posts
This is a copy of the email I received from Seven Springs.

Hello,



Thank you for your interest in Laurel Mountain Ski Area. Seven Springs is working hard to assess the current state of the facilities and infrastructure. As of now it seems that we will have to make major renovations to the facilities to open it for skiing and boarding. The extent of the need for replacement of items such as chairlifts and snow making facilities will govern when the resort opens. Be sure that if the go ahead is given for it to open this winter season it will be announced on the Seven Springs Mountain Resort website and passes will be sold exclusively for Laurel Mountain, as well as, an upgrade option for the Seven Springs Pass to include both ski areas. I hope that this information helps you out. If you have any other questions, please feel free to respond to this email with them. Thanks and have a great day!
hockeydave
September 24, 2008
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
Good info Rick. Based on a walk over to the lodge this past Sunday morning, there is no evidence anything is happening or about to happen. All we can do is hope that the state still comes through with some money and 7S truly wants to open Laurel. I think it's wait til next year... again. Just as long as Laurel stays out of the Lost Ski Area section on this site, I guess there is still a glimmer of hope.
skibum
September 24, 2008
Member since 12/3/2007 🔗
79 posts
the word i got on sat at the 7springs is it will be next winter (09). springs is waiting for the state money . the word i got it was a done deal? skibum
hockeydave
October 11, 2008
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
Again, I hate being pessimistic, but unless the state sees the $6.5 million needed to upgrade Laurel as a "make work" project, I'm being to believe Laurel may be on the chopping block for state funding. Given the news that PA will have budget shortfalls (http://www.postgazette.com/pg/08285/919227-298.stm), I think some creative funding will have to take place or some benefactor will have to step up to the plate. It sure would be nice if the original owners of the land would, at the very least, match state funding. I had heard rumors from a well conected person that some of the younger family members of the previous landowners had been pestering their parents to do such a thing. At this point, this may be Laurel's only hope. It also would be great if Mr Nutting, who had a $250,000,000 baseball stadium built for his baseball team (at taxpayer expense), contributed some of his bucks to this effort.
skibum
October 11, 2008
Member since 12/3/2007 🔗
79 posts
I WILL KNOW MORE NEXT WEEKEND GOING UP TO THE SPRINGS FOR A PARTY AT A FRENDS HOUSE I WILL KEEP MY EYERS OPEN SKI BUM
skibum
November 11, 2008
Member since 12/3/2007 🔗
79 posts
the news i have is ever thing is on track for next year the state and the springs are working out the last of the details ski-bum
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
November 11, 2008
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,859 posts
Great news, ski bum, confirms what hockeydave said in the other thread. Have you been on the Mountain lately?
skibum
November 23, 2008
Member since 12/3/2007 🔗
79 posts
was at the springs this weekend the info i have is the springs will start tearing out the old double chair in march replace it with the old gunnar chair up grad the snow making to cover 80% of the current terrain.with up grads to water and sewage.new terrain is in the plans but it may take some time to get approved. this comes from a very good source. skibum
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
November 24, 2008
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,859 posts
Great news, skibum. I hope to hear a public announcement soon.

For those who have not found my Laurel Mountain Wish List thread. Take the time to make over Laurel to your liking and tell us what you would like to see happen.
imp
November 26, 2008
Member since 01/11/2007 🔗
238 posts
Seems to be official from Somerset Trust 7springs has signed
a deal to actualy buy the Laurel Mountain assets, includes the Village.
WIth luck this will be the last year to hike dream highway

imp
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
November 26, 2008
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,859 posts
That's great news but I'm still waiting for an official announcement before I celebrate.
hockeydave
November 27, 2008
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
A high ranking official wink , who was integral in the sale of Laurel (he also wishes to remain anonymous), has confirmed the official transfer of assets (both the ski area and Village) by stating the following:

"DONE!!!!!"

For some reason 7S doesn't want this made public. My guess the reason for the sale being kept hushed is in case the state doesn't pony up with the $$$$, which is still a very real possibility that they won't. In that case, what would 7S do with the assets, both ski and Village?

My understanding was the state wouldn't release the $$$ until the sale was finalized, which may or may not be true.

Happy Thanksgiving!!!!
skibum
November 27, 2008
Member since 12/3/2007 🔗
79 posts
For every-one's info, today Seven Springs(11 23 08) became the new owner of all
assets of Laurel Mountain Ski Resort and Laurel Mountain Village. this came to by e mail from the best of source's. skibum
hockeydave
November 30, 2008
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
Kinda bored today, so I was thinking, you know, assuming Laurel does open next year, do you think it might be possible that 7S might be smart enough to partner with HV in offering dual season passes between Laurel and HV or have a similar deal that HV struck with Wisp?

The people who ski at the Springs are going to stay there for the most part for its unique "ambiance" and probably won't venture over to Laurel very often. However, people who ski at HV and want a little more of a challenge, I think, would jump at a dual season pass or reduced lift ticket prices at Laurel (and vice versa). It would be a win/win for both Laurel and HV.
Edgar3
November 30, 2008
Member since 05/29/2007 🔗
149 posts
Agree that there would be a win/win for more cooperation between HV and 7S, but would appear that there is more competition than cooperation between them at the moment.

Imagine what could be possible if they had shuttle bus service, interchangable passes, and have the entire area promoted together to attract visitors. There was a great full page advertisment in the travel section of Washington Post today run by the Laurel Highlands Tourism Organization, that promoted 7S, HV, and Nemocolin all together as a destination. Saw a smaller of the same ad in USA Today. At least this format allows them to all cross promote on neutral ground, but agree that they could all benefit if they actually had real integration.
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
November 30, 2008
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,859 posts
Co-operation and packaging can help expand market share. Since Nutting and Buncher came on the scene both resorts have been making noise. Both should work on keeping all eyes on their stewardship. A joint marketing program and a revitalized Laurel whould command attention.
LValleyGirl
December 5, 2008
Member since 12/5/2008 🔗
7 posts
Let the first part of the celebration begin! Now we just need a deal with the DCNR! Check this out... http://www.7springs.com/page/content.detail/id/5438.html?nav=5117
skibum
December 5, 2008
Member since 12/3/2007 🔗
79 posts
just one more hurdle? next year lower wildcat for x mas if so it will make 10 year from reopening
fishnski
December 5, 2008
Member since 03/27/2005 🔗
3,530 posts
Its a shame this Gem of a Ski area has had to Vedge for this long ...Long Live Laurel Mtn..Cheers!
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
December 5, 2008
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,859 posts
Finally some public announcements. Now let's hope the economy doesn't kill the funding. Ok Governor Rendell, you got an experienced resort operator stepping up, you've got the support of local politicians and a skiing public ready to come home to Laurel, let's get this done.
hockeydave
December 6, 2008
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
zooman
December 6, 2008
Member since 01/21/2008 🔗
24 posts
I have faith.It may not happen soon but it will happen.
hockeydave
December 14, 2008
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
The Colonel noticed these comments by PA Taxpayer in the article Scott posted about the purchase of Laurel Mountain assets by Seven Springs. I figured it was appropriate to move these comments to this thread instead of the Hidden Valley thread.

Quote:
If the other resorts in the area are having a difficult time hiring people, how does adding another ski area create more jobs when there currently are not enough people wanting to work in the industry to fill the existing jobs. I know Seven Springs has to resort to hiring foreign workers.

With a $1.6 billion projected deficit this year, I can think of many more worth while projects that will benefit many rather than spending hard earned taxpayer money on a facility that will benefit a few seasonally.

If it is a worthwhile project, I am sure Seven Springs is willing to foot the whole tab, which seems to be the case if they are planning on relocating the old Gunnar lift.



I have a couple of thoughts on the above comment. There is no doubt that the other ski resorts in the state have a legitimate beef with the real possibility that the state is going to pump upwards of $6.5 million into Laurel and that Seven Springs will operate the ski area. Taxpayers have a right to complain where and how their money is going to be spent.

However, I can offer this analogy. When someone decides to move a business into an office building, the landlord will offer incentives such as renovating the office space to accomodate the business in order to lure the business into their building and ergo, rent payments are made to the landlord. The first few rent payments pay for the renovation and the rest of the rent payments, excluding taxes, is pure profit for the landlord. Its a win-win situation for both parties. Happens all the time.

In this case, DCNR is the landlord, Seven Springs is the business. If DCNR (PA) does come through with the upgrade money, Seven Springs operates the ski area. In the long run, it is probable the state recoups their investment with rent payments from Seven Springs, tax dollars generated by tourists pumping money into the local economy and tax money from employees on Seven Springs payroll at Laurel.
WPABoarder
December 14, 2008
Member since 01/20/2006 🔗
22 posts
Both PA Taxpayer and hockeydave make good points.

If the re-opening creates permenant jobs then it surely has to be considered, but at what cost? The analogy to an office building is a good one except that we are talking about taxpayer money where there are many investment opportunities and not a landlord looking to lease some space. Remember that someone is likely borrowing the money (landlord or state), so the cost is always greater than just the initial investment.

I guess as The Colonel and hockeydave have previously said on this thread, it all comes down to the agreement with the DCNR and a heavy financial penalty for lease termination.
skibum
December 18, 2008
Member since 12/3/2007 🔗
79 posts
THE INFO I HAVE IS THE STATE AND THE SPRINGS ARE CLOSE TO A DEAL . THE DNCR WANTS TO GET BIDS OUT FOR WORK TO START IN THE SPRING 09. BUT KNOWING THE STATE IT WILL TAKE TO THE SUMMER TO GET THINGS GOING. WICH MEANS A MAD RUSH TO GET L.M OPEN IN WINTER OF 09 SKIBUM
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
December 18, 2008
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,859 posts
I hope you're right, skibum. I've heard nothing encouraging lately but I've been too busy skiing. I would think that 7S wouldn't have closed with Somerset Trust if they didn't think the State would come through. On the other hand $1.5M maybe a cheap alternative to keep competition out of the market.

I'm still waiting to exhale.
Taylormatt
December 19, 2008
Member since 12/3/2004 🔗
339 posts
It's not looking real promising if you ask me. The State can't afford salt for the roads this Winter. They will also run out of money to pay UC benefits in two months b/c the unemployment rate is the highest it's been in 25 years...I don't see the State shelling out $6.5M to do a State Park improvement right now, regardless of who's operating LM.
hockeydave
December 19, 2008
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
There's no doubt the only way the state could sell the funding of this project, at this point in time, is as an economic stimulus, both short term (assuming local contractors are used to perform the upgrades) and long term (jobs at the resort after reopening and tourist related income). If the proponents of the funding of Laurel don't sell the funding in this way to the taxpaying public, stick a fork in Laurel.

And what a shame it would be to have that lodge and ski area keep sitting idle. If Mr. Nutting could only find it within him to perform a public service (he was given a $250 million baseball field by PA taxpayers), then state funding would be a moot point. $6.5 million is not a small amount of money. But 7S could open Laurel w/o all of the proposed upgrades at a fraction of that cost. Whether it would be viable long term w/o the upgrades is another story.
Leo
December 19, 2008
Member since 11/15/2005 🔗
279 posts
Just a point of clarification here...the "state" may dole out the money, but they don't pay unemployment benefits. The taxpayers do -- more specifically, businesses. When a business lays off employees, their SUTA tax factor or percentage (which is paid on all of payroll) increases. So I believe the "state" should have an increasing cash flow to pay those unemployment benefits right now.

I don't know why I felt the need to clarify this...it's just that I hate when the government gets credit for paying for things. They don't pay for anything. WE pay for it all.
GGNagy
December 19, 2008
Member since 01/5/2006 🔗
451 posts
Originally Posted By: Leo
Just a point of clarification here...the "state" may dole out the money, but they don't pay unemployment benefits. The taxpayers do -- more specifically, businesses. When a business lays off employees, their SUTA tax factor or percentage (which is paid on all of payroll) increases. So I believe the "state" should have an increasing cash flow to pay those unemployment benefits right now.

I don't know why I felt the need to clarify this...it's just that I hate when the government gets credit for paying for things. They don't pay for anything. WE pay for it all.


Well, all the money comes from us the taxpayers, but yes, UI should be a seperate pot. The nastly little secret that is coming more to light now is that the states had been borrowing from the UI funds much in the same manner that the Federal Govt has been raiding the Social Security trust fund. Now that the ui funds are needed, the states need to figure out how THEY are going to pay back the IOUs that have accumulated from the general budget.
rjsherrin
December 20, 2008
Member since 09/28/2005 🔗
145 posts
I keep wondering about Seven Springs also. I was wondering if they bought it to keep it closed down, but with Seven Springs buying the Village and the Ski Area, I think they have an intent to reopen. I was told by the Pa DCNR that there needs to be a Water Tower put in by the owner. I was also told by the Senators office that there was going to be an expansion of the sewer lines in the very near future. I hope I see them up there this spring getting the Village and the Ski Slopes going.
hockeydave
December 21, 2008
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
Rick, there really is only one reason why Laurel has a chance of reopening and that reason was the interest shown in Laurel this past summer by the Buncher Group (HV owners). If not for them, Seven Springs would have had ZERO interest in Laurel Mountain. There is no doubt, at least in my opinion, Seven Springs stepped up when they had a chance to keep Buncher away from Laurel. Had Buncher acquired Laurel, they would have had a tremendous duo of true family oriented ski areas that offered a wide variety of terrain. And given the vast improvements at Hidden Valley in such a short period of time, one wonders what Laurel could have become under Buncher's watch.

I am giving Seven Springs the benefit of the doubt and am very hopeful things work out for them at Laurel, because if they do, we all win. So far they have done everything they can do by purchasing the ski & village assets and are curruently in talks with the DCNR. But I have a suspicion that if the state balks on any of their promises (i.e. $$$$), they're gone from Laurel ASAP. And given the state budget issues, its going to take some real political courage or creativity to approve that muti-million dollar funding.

If they bolt, Seven Springs sells/uses the ski assets, writes off the losses in the village, gives or sells the lodge back to the state, which would effectively close Laurel indefinitely, and possibly for good.

It would then take someone like Buncher to show interest again, and quite possibly after the initial dealings with the DCNR, which I'm sure left a sour taste in their corporate mouth, they may never come back to discuss Laurel.

I am still hopeful the New Year brings activity to Laurel (i.e. construction in the spring) and the eventual reopening a year from now. But at this point in time, I am still very reluctant to believe that we'll be skiing Lower in 2009-10.
skibum
December 24, 2008
Member since 12/3/2007 🔗
79 posts
the word i have is the springs is moving forward it now may be a ego thing with nutting ? he wanted to beat the valley out.
hockeydave
December 30, 2008
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
LHC, I hope you don't mind, but I had to copy and paste your comments from Scott's article about 7S purchasing Laurel's assets. Only your eloquence surpasses your enthusiasm for Laurel.


Quote:
Jobs are one good reason to open Laurel. The winter tourism will complement the area's robust summer trade and spread the wealth over the year and enriching the local economy no doubt. I can think of other reasons to preserve and develop this mountain as a vital operation.

I love skiing at Laurel. I like the way the skiing spreads out. When you're in the Lodge at the top of the mountain you have no idea how the skiing unfolds. Innsbruck and Broadway are more like explorations then a clear shot down the hill. You can only see to the next turn, to the next drop. You don't know if it will fall away fast or ramble to the next bend. If you look on your left above the Midway Cabin you see the stone wall built to fill in the dip of the slope so an old surface lift has a consistent rise up the hill. The Midway cabin itself is a relic of a bygone era of skiing's romantic beginnings.

You ski Wildcat's upper width above the Ligonier Valley as it steepens and gravity pulls you to that visual crest below. You pull up and look across the valley to the opposite mountain before you look down and to see fellow skiers just disappear below that horizon and realize it gets real steep, real fast.

The Commonwealth has in its possession a unique area to ski and an interesting history to share. It is worth my taxes to provide me and my family an affordable opportunity to participate in a sport in its purest environment.
jimmy
December 30, 2008
Member since 03/5/2004 🔗
2,650 posts
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Nice, smile .
skibum
December 31, 2008
Member since 12/3/2007 🔗
79 posts
well said skibum
hockeydave
January 15, 2009
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
http://www.dailyamerican.com/articles/2009/01/15/news/news/news137.txt

There is always someone who keeps Laurel on the RADAR when the article is about 7S improvements. Way to go Julie!!! wink
LValleyGirl
January 15, 2009
Member since 12/5/2008 🔗
7 posts
So I have some friends who are in the loop at 7S. Laurel isn't "off the radar." They are just waiting to finalize a deal with the DCNR. Not trying to hide anything, just typical bureaucracy red tape. No reason to sniff about conspiracies.
Clay
January 15, 2009
Member since 04/11/2006 🔗
555 posts
But we all like sniffing about conspiracies! wink
hockeydave
February 4, 2009
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
Today, Gov Rendell puts forth his proposed budget. I understand that he is going to propose a spending increase, with the hopes the fedgov stimuli will supplement the state's shortfall in revenue. Hopefully, the upgrades to the LM Ski area will be in the final approved budget.
RobertW
February 4, 2009
Member since 10/14/2004 🔗
199 posts
<Sigh> FWIW, I downloaded the 900+ page budget document PDF and searched it and did not see any mention of the ski area improvements. In the list of proposed DCNR projects, several million dollars were allocated for Linn Run/Laurel Summit to improve infrastructure, build cabins and improve roads but again, no mention of the ski area. Ed may have let us down yet again.
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
February 5, 2009
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,859 posts
I'm not sure how the Capital Projects budget works, that's where the funds for Laurel were, not the general budget. Laurel made last year's capital projects. I don't know if that must be renewed or if the project funds are carried over.
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
March 11, 2009
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,859 posts
I attended a public meeting by Linn Run/Laurel Mountain State Park manager Doug Finger and Forbes State Forest forester Ed Callahan. The purpose of the meeting was to provide a brief overview of the activities and projects within the two adjacent DCNR domains and to solicit feedback from the diverse group of stake holders in attendance. I asked Doug specifically about the status of the capital projects funding and negotiations between the DCNR and Seven Springs for the opening of Laurel.

As for the project itself Doug stated that his department is in full support and enthusiastic (I maybe paraphrasing that) about opening Laurel. He was cautious about a projected opening date warning that it may not be this next season.

As for funding, Laurel has not been removed from the capital project's list but he did express concern about the state of the economy and the possible consequences for Laurel's funding. I expected this as I'm sure all capital outlays will be evaluated for the best bang for the buck in addition to the public support. (hint, hint)

As for negotiations with Seven Springs, talks have been on going with more talks scheduled within a month. From Village residence I have learned that the sewerage issue is being addressed and the ski lodge is thought to be a part of that solution. There has been some on site evaluation of proper placement of a tubing park.

All indications are that Laurel is still alive but a time frame for opening and state funding has not been established.

Keep those cards and letters coming, folks.
hockeydave
March 12, 2009
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
Thanks for the update Rob.
Adamh21 - DCSki Supporter
March 12, 2009
Member since 12/4/2008 🔗
26 posts
Thanks for the update, I really do miss this place. Hopefully we'll all be able to enjoy it again.
hockeydave
March 17, 2009
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
Now that ski season is winding down (i.e. it's over), it sure would be nice if 7S would announce their intentions regarding Laurel for next ski season. An announcement by the end of April, or no later than the middle of May, would be greatly appreciated.

I'm sure announcing that Laurel is reopening would create quite a buzz. I would definitely buy a season pass at 7S (and Laurel) if 7S reopened Laurel, which I haven't done since the Nuttings took over.
GGNagy
March 17, 2009
Member since 01/5/2006 🔗
451 posts
a bit off topic, but what is the current story on land in the village? My wife and I have tossed around the idea of building a small cabin in the Laurel Highlands as a 4 seasons weekend getaway.
skibum
March 17, 2009
Member since 12/3/2007 🔗
79 posts
we have come a long way in the last 4 years. keep the Faith
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
March 24, 2009
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,859 posts
I just received this call to action e-mail from the Pennsylvania Parks and Forest Foundation, a non-profit organization that promotes PA Parks and Forest. Please read and take action. A Senate Bill is has been introduced that will divert $174 million dollars from the PA State Parks and Forest. This funding stream was originally created for PA Parks and forest. Passage of this bill could impact Laurel Mountain funding. If you are a Pennsylvania resident please contact your State Senator and ask then to oppose this bill.



Action Alert - Your Help Needed!

Save Parks & Forests Funding - Join PPFF and Others in Opposing PA Senate Bill 490
March 24, 2009

Sometime soon the Pennsylvania Senate is expected to vote on a piece of legislation that would impact parks and forests across the commonwealth. Almost $174 million of conservation funding is at risk, and we need your help to make sure it is used for protecting our environment.

SB 490 is a bill that puts into statute a $174 million diversion from the Oil & Gas Lease Fund for the 09-10 fiscal year. Passage of the bill will make it easier to divert revenue from the next lease, as well as the forthcoming royalty revenues. The original intention for these monies was to support parks, forests, and water quality.

Please use the following information to contact your state senator to ask him or her to oppose Senate Bill 490. If you don't know your state Senator, visit http://www.pasen.gov/

Talking Points
Since 1955 - and through seven recessions - Pennsylvania's elected leaders have used money from the sale and drilling of nonrenewable oil and gas resources in state forests for investment in conservation, and maintenance and improvement of our parks and forests, for the benefit of all current and future citizens.

Governor Rendell's proposed budget diverts $174 million out of $190 million in drilling lease revenue to the General Fund - and away from Department of Conservation and Natural Resources projects that preserve and protect our waterways, forests and parks. That means over 90 percent of these funds will be lost. This is an enormous blow for conservation funding.

While we appreciate the difficult budgetary situation facing the Commonwealth and know that all interests and programs must make sacrifices, we are concerned that diverting over 90 percent of revenues from the Oil and Gas Lease Fund is simply too much. These monies, used for its intended purpose, could put citizens back to work by improving our parks and forests, cleaning up streams and investing in green infrastructure.

Since there will be future leases on state land, and since the 1955 law also directs royalty payments into the Oil and Gas Lease Fund, passing SB 490 would set a bad precedent for future use of the money.

Call or send an email to your senator today! Tell him or her that you oppose this bill and that you want to see the money used for environmental projects that will benefit all current and future residents.


conserve--enhance--enjoy
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
April 6, 2009
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,859 posts
I just received this letter from John Norbeck, Director of the Pennsylvania State Parks dated April 1, 2009. I hope the date is just a coincidence:




This letter was in response to an e-message I sent through Governor Rendel's web page seeking information on the status of capital funding and negotiations for lease of Laurel Mountain State Park.

This is very encouraging news for Laurel Mountain. We will see if an official lease announcement is made. Notice there is no mention of opening dates or deadlines.

The Johnson report cited in Director Norbeck's letter is the feasibility study done by the Jack Johnson Co. for the DCNR. This report outlined two possible scenario's for Laurel Mountains rehabilitation. There is no indication if this document details final design or merely outlines needs. I suspect that it will serve as outlining baseline needs.

I will post some detail of the Johnson Report when I've had the time to study and report back
skibum
April 6, 2009
Member since 12/3/2007 🔗
79 posts
april of what year? ski bum
snowsmith - DCSki Supporter
April 6, 2009
Member since 03/15/2004 🔗
1,367 posts
Jack Johnson was working for Buncher, so I assume that Buncher had an idea what need to be done. It sound like the Springs snuck in and got to the bank who was holding the lease. Too bad for HV season pass holders since we would have benefited from this. Hopefully, the new terrain expansion will move forward at HV AND Laurel Mountain will re-open. That would make for an exciting 2009/2010 season in the Laurel Highlands.
Note that there was a recent article in the Johnstown Tribune Democrat that indicated lift ticket sales were up considerably at Blue Knob, Springs and HV.
skibum
April 7, 2009
Member since 12/3/2007 🔗
79 posts
the numbers i got said ski days were down by 35000 at the springs this season
Taylormatt
April 7, 2009
Member since 12/3/2004 🔗
339 posts
Not gonna happen....at least under Nutting. I stand by that opinion. 7S took it hard this year and are currently dumping staff like there's no tomorrow.
hockeydave
April 8, 2009
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
The DCNR, and most importantly, those of us who love Laurel, will rue the day the state did not strike a deal with Buncher.

Just look at how the Nuttings operate the Succo's (Pittsburgh Pirates)... nuff said.
snowsmith - DCSki Supporter
April 8, 2009
Member since 03/15/2004 🔗
1,367 posts
I would expect the staffing for the ski operation to get laid off. What's a liftee going to do during the spring/summer months. According to the article link below, local ski areas did well.

http://www.tribune-democrat.com/archivesearch/local_story_084102257.html
Taylormatt
April 9, 2009
Member since 12/3/2004 🔗
339 posts
This isn't seasonal staff being laid off for the Summer.
skibum
April 11, 2009
Member since 12/3/2007 🔗
79 posts
has nutting business model-for 7 springs fallen apart with fall of the economy? trying to up scale 7 springs in to a 5 star aspen of the east.for only the very rich working ?is 7 springs up for sale?. has his cash cow the pirate's look a little thin this year. skibum
gizmosnow
April 11, 2009
Member since 10/6/2005 🔗
269 posts
Don't know anything about Nuttings publishing businesses or his plans for 7S. But, in general, the print news business is abysmal with long standing, prestigious newspapers going bust left and right. I think Nuttings empire includes many smaller, local papers but, these too, have to be feeling the pain of the internet.
Taylormatt
April 12, 2009
Member since 12/3/2004 🔗
339 posts
I've heard rumors floating around the ridge for a few months that he is looking for a buyer. Of course, there are always so many rumors on the ridge at any given time. Until it's confirmed, it's just another ridgie rumor.
snosnugums
April 13, 2009
Member since 04/10/2006 🔗
126 posts
They built a new spa, they renovated the hotel rooms and they got rid of the old greasy spoon diner. You'd think that diner was an institution. It didn't fit there.
They sold all of those big ticket town houses and added a 6-pack high speed lift. I don't know what you guys are smokin, but I would say they doing pretty well. Is the flat economy affecting them...of course it is. It's affecting everybody except funeral homes and liquor stores.
I think they had a good year on the slopes.
Stop being so negative!
hockeydave
April 19, 2009
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
Quote:
I've heard rumors floating around the ridge for a few months that he is looking for a buyer. Of course, there are always so many rumors on the ridge at any given time. Until it's confirmed, it's just another ridgie rumor.


I just heard the same rumor from a 30 year Somerset businessman.
hockeydave
April 27, 2009
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
I've recently spoken to several people who definitely would know if the rumor regarding the Nuttings shopping 7S around might have legs. 2 of the 3 didn't even hear of it and the other heard the rumor here, so my uneducated guess would be the rumor is completely false (maybe just wishful thinking).

Regarding Laurel, I am awaiting a return phone call from a manager at 7S to address whether or not there is a chance Laurel might open for the 09-10 ski season. I'll update the thread if there is any news.

Without any official word on Laurel soon, I would guess chances, yet again, become remote we'll be skiing Laurel this upcoming season. I'll repeat this again, we and the state will regret a deal was not struck with Buncher.
LValleyGirl
April 27, 2009
Member since 12/5/2008 🔗
7 posts
Wow... I have said it before and I will say it again - I have never seen a thread with so many conspiracy theorists!

I gotta agree with snosnugums, 7S is doing pretty well and the Nuttings are investing in the resort. Screw the baseball team and get over it! Watch the Pens or the Steelers! The resort is coming alive again. Can you imagine all the work that needed to be done to that place after years of neglect under the Dupres? Good God!

Trust me, my cousin works at 7S and I live in the Ligonier Valley. Recently I meandered through Laurel on a hike with my family. There is NO way that place is opening this season. From the looks of it, even if 7S had sealed the deal with the DCNR and the other bureaucracies last summer or early fall, Laurel would not open this coming season. The whole place is ghosttown mess.

But I guess getting it open ASAP to make all the naysayers happy regardless of safety and thought is more important? The whole resort needs rehabilitation. Water lines, sewage, rusting chairlifts, run down lodge, pitted slopes - WHAT A MESS!

I don't know about all of you - but I want Laurel to re-open the right way even if that means it takes some time. Don't you all remember when Somerset Trust thrust it into Dupre's/7S's hands in 04-05 like two months before the snow fell? No time for planning or operational thought. It was horrendous! A total disgrace!

Hockey Dave, I guess you won't be skiing Laurel since it won't be under the realm of the Bunchers? You know they passed LM up, essentially giving it to 7S. They should kick themselves in the you know what.
hockeydave
April 27, 2009
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
LValleyGirl, I'm pointing out facts. Look at the Pirates, and forget about the fluke of a start this year (they will revert to losing form, trust me). The Nuttings were given a taxpayer funded stadium and have fielded a sub-500 team 16 years running. Whenever they have a choice between winning or making a large profit (having a fire sale, signing/re-signing a star, drafting below par talent so they won't have to pay as much), they choose profit every time. I suspect they will nickel and dime Laurel if they do finally get around to opening it.

Just my opinion, Laurel was not a disgrace when opened by the Dupres in 04-05. Bad year for skiing because of the weather. At least it was open.

I don't think 7S was neglected by the Dupres. If you wanted to see neglect, just head 3 miles north to Hidden Valley. The Kettlers were guilty of that until Buncher bought the place. Buncher has a track record of revamping resorts (actually only 1 resort) and quickly, I might add. Buncher has changed Hidden Valley from a piece of crap to a wonderful resort in less than a year and a half. The golf course was a cow pasture due to years of neglect and now is near country club standards. The new snow-making at HV is the best. I know firsthand that Buncher did not abandon Laurel, the state dragged its feet and Seven Springs snuck in the back door with Somerset Trust. If it weren't for Buncher and their interest in Laurel, we wouldn't even be talking about a future at Laurel. And although I'm not Missouri, the Nuttings will have to prove to me they are truly interested in operating Laurel as a public/private partnership as Buncher proposed and would have done. A good faith gesture would be to start revamping the lodge (power-wash and stain isn't asking much) right now. And as of yet, I have not seen one shred of evidence that leads me to believe the Nuttings will be good stewards of Laurel, if at all.



Leo
April 27, 2009
Member since 11/15/2005 🔗
279 posts
LValleyGirl...I'm all for optimism. But on the one hand, you sort of say, trust the Nuttings, they are doing a good job with 7S, etc.

And then on the other hand you admit that you hiked on LM and see absolutely no evidence that anything is happening.

A lot of the people on here who would love more than anyone to see Laurel reopen have consistently stated that they only wanted it open if it was opened and run correctly. So wanting to see progress and wanting to see encouraging signs is not the same as wanting to see it open ASAP even if that means it being open haphazardly.

I'm going to second what hockeydave said, but maybe for a different reason. I wish Buncher would have got LM b/c I think an HV/LM season pass would be the best pass you could have around here. I don't really get what Laurel does for 7S -- they already have the terrain that HV lacks.
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
April 27, 2009
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,859 posts
I'm sorry it has taken so long to reported back on the details of the Jack Johnson report on Laurel. I've been tending to the chores I've put off all winter and 2 weeks ago we had a furnace fire that caused some smoke damage to our house. The biggest problem the fire caused was uprooting us from home until the cleaning crews did their job. We are back now and beginning to get back to our daily routine.

The study dated April 28, 2008 and titled Summary of Laurel Mountain Ski Resort Financial Analysis was commissioned by the DCNR with input from the Buncher Company who was in negotiation with the DCNR for a lease at that time. Since Buncher is now out of the picture I don't know if this study is still relevant. I would think it still has some significance because it was a DCNR funded study to determine the feasibility of a successful reopening for Laurel. It is not a master plan.

The study looked at two scenarios. One would be a minimum upgrade and repair. The other would be a major capital upgrade. The Study was done with a 2008/09 opening date and costs were calculated in that time frame.



Scenario 1

Scenario 1 would require a total cash expenditure of $789,200 with a repair budget of $743,000, most of which would go to repairing existing lifts; $235,000 for the quad and $365,000 for the double. Snow making repairs would be $30,000. The rest would go to upgrade safety items (replace tower pads), food service including water supply, signage, groomer repair, building maintenance, and labor cost.

Capital improvement budget under scenario 1 totals $46,200. The only significant improvement would be a $20,000 outlay for what is termed a new beginner trail. The rest of the capital budget would include computer and communication improvements, maintenance tools, snowmobile and contingency money.



Scenario 2

Scenario 2 would require a total cash outlay of $8,093,600. The breakdown is $486,000 in repairs and $7,607,600 in capital improvements. The repair items are the same as scenario 1 minus the repairs on the double. Highlights of the improvements include $1,815,000 for a new fixed grip quad, $1,400,00o for snow making, $160,000 for a magic carpet lift, $360,000 for trail improvements, $1,000,000 for pond and environmental conditions, $1,000,000 for sewage, $230,000 for new rental equipment, $60,000 for building improvements, and 50,000 for warming hut improvements. Also included are upgrades to the terrain park, lighting, sprinklers (fire safety, I assume), along with items listed in scenario 1 and $691,600 for contingency money.

The report states that, and I quote, "....it is felt that with the recommended capital improvements, sustained financial viability for the Resort's operation is achievable."

This is all I have time for now. I'll try to post some details on the financial models on which this study was based but if there are any questions just post them here and I'll try to answer.


LValleyGirl
April 28, 2009
Member since 12/5/2008 🔗
7 posts
Leo, 7S does not have a finalized deal with the DCNR or the Mellon Foundation. So - why would they go in and start working on a property that is not completely theirs? Kind of bassackwards...
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
April 28, 2009
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,859 posts
Wow, didn't notice the new post here since I started to summarize the Jack Jonson report. I hope it doesn't get lost in this current round of flame.

I expressed misgivings over Nutting's intentions when they bought the assets from Somerset Trust last year. I sincerely hope that I'm proven wrong and I will support any attempt to get Laurel open. So far I only have the letter from Director Norbeck as proof that talks are on going with Seven Springs but as April draws to a close and no announcement is forthcoming doubts will linger.

As for the possibility of reopening next season, it is doable from a construction standpoint if a lease is signed soon. I doubt it will happen unless the reason for the delay in announcing a lease agreement is that a full master plan and business plan is being put in place. No State money will be committed until the DCNR is satisfied that this type of development plan is in place. Remember, the capital funds are going to the DCNR for the rehabilitation of Laurel. The money is not going to Seven Springs.

Now I have heard all sorts of rumor that Seven Springs want to do this or do that but it will ultimately be decided by the DCNR how the facilities will be developed. I hope the the DCNR will listen to Seven Springs concerns but then hire an outside resort development firm such as Jack Johnson or Sno Engineering (SE Group) to do the final master plan and over see proper development. This is no reflection of a distrust of Seven Springs or the Nuttings. I only hope that Laurel be done right and these two firms are the only two that I know of that have the experience in ski area design.

As for the Buncher Company, they have done wonderful things at Hidden Valley in a very short time. Rehabilitating the Valley was the best thing that happened to Western PA skiing, nothing like real competition to keep both parties sharp. The fact remains that for whatever reason Buncher withdrew from negotiations and Seven Springs stepped up. I'm sorry to see Buncher go, I'm glad that Seven Springs is interested and made bold public announcements to their intention. It puts their credibility on the line and I see it as a commitment to follow through.

I think bickering about intentions or regretting past events does no good. Seven Springs is at the plate ready to go to bat for Laurel. Me, I'm rooting for a grand slam and a run deep into the coming season.



hockeydave
April 28, 2009
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
LValleyGirl. Technically the Nuttings own the lodge and can do what they want with it, which currently is to neglect it. I do know that someone maintains it in Winter, but he has been doing that since Somerset Trust assumed it. Since it is a blighted property as is, I would think they might want to spruce up the outside just a little... I'm just sayin'.

But I echo LHC's comments above. I hope the Nuttings interest is genuine in reopening Laurel and will congratulate the Nuttings when and if any effort is made in the rehab of a truly special ski area. However, it will be very frustrating to me to see that area sit idle for yet another winter.
snowsmith - DCSki Supporter
April 28, 2009
Member since 03/15/2004 🔗
1,367 posts
To be honest, $8.0 million invested in Laurel Mountain is hard to justify from a business standpoint. If the State is picking up $5 or $6 million of this, it may make economic sense. Of course if 7Springs owns the developable lots in the village, then the $8 million may make sense. I cannot see how you would generate enough revenue from the ski area operation to cover an $8 million debt.
I know I am going to hear some complaining about my statement, but, reality is reality. That is not to say that I don't want LM to open, I do! I would love to ski there.
hockeydave
April 28, 2009
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
Snowsmith, this forum/thread is all about opinions and as always, yours is a welcome one. There are aome people who feel the way you do, and in some of the deeper recesses of my mind, I probably do too. But to spend a day skiing there and watch a sunset is priceless. I can't think of a better way to spend taxpayer money and let all who choose to enjoy do so. And in this economy, that taxpayer money would be spent creating/maintaining both short term and long term employment in the beloved Laurel Highlands.
LMV
April 28, 2009
Member since 06/1/2005 🔗
60 posts
Originally Posted By: snowsmith
7Springs owns the developable lots in the village

They do own the developable lots in the village.
rjsherrin
April 28, 2009
Member since 09/28/2005 🔗
145 posts
I sent an email to Seven Springs about 2 weeks ago asking what the current plans are and still haven't got a reply. I am watching the Village lots. They need to put some (a lot of) money into water and sewer to develop it. I am getting tired of waiting to see what is going to happen. I am getting ready to hire a private party to do perk tests on some of the lots. My opinion and this is only a guess is that the Pirate man bought it for pennies to keep competition out.
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
April 28, 2009
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,859 posts
Snowsmith, the money from the State isn't expected to be recouped in a traditional business manner. Revenue generated by any PA State Park operation doesn't go back into State Park budgets nor does it go to retire specific debt. Any revenue generated by State Park operations goes into the general budget. That is my understanding. Since Laurel will be leased to a private operator the only income to the State would be from the lease. I can imagine that an agreement could be made to base the lease on a percentage of gross income or some other standard but I doubt the lease revenue would be expected to retire the debt. The State is investing in an infrastructure that will be used by a private operator. This is done all the time in most States. Payment back to the State comes in job creation which produces income tax, sales tax and, no doubt, a host of other fee that are not accounted for in a traditional business model.

Seven Springs could make a nice profit from real estate development with the ski area as the magnate without too great an investment risk in the ski facility. I'm sure there would be an escape clause for 7S if ski operations were not profitable.
rjsherrin
May 20, 2009
Member since 09/28/2005 🔗
145 posts
The latest on 7 Springs and development of Laurel Mountain. It sounds like DCNR has finally approved the operation. 7 Springs is going up next month to look over the resort an see what is needed to determine if it will be open this winter. As far as the Village goes, Jenners Twp. is trying to get a $1,000,000. grant to connect the sewage system to the main system. If the grant is given, they should know by August. Jenners owns the water and sewer and there is still no building permits. Hopefully we may know more by August.
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
May 20, 2009
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,859 posts
rj, I hope you're right about that. Director Norbeck indicated that an agreement was expected. I've not talked to anybody concerning Laurel for a while, a furnace fire in my home and the pending sale of my folk's house has consumed my attention.

What still has me worried is the proposal to close 35 State Parks due to the Pennsylvania budget shortfall. I don't know how that will effect Laurel or Linn Run State Park which are both under the same State Park manager. Here's a link to a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette story from May 15:

Budget shortfall could shut at least 35 State Parks

Leo
May 20, 2009
Member since 11/15/2005 🔗
279 posts
Wow. I hadn't seen that article. This is the part that concerns me the most:

"The state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources said it would need to close at least 35 state parks for the summer and reduce public access to state forests under a state Senate budget plan passed last week that slashes departmental appropriations."

It's about time for a revolution in this country/the state of PA (many other states, too, I am sure). How could budget shortfalls possibly lead to reduced access to State Forests.

In Forbes State Forest (at least the section around LM) the "State" can't even stop petty thieves from breaking into cars. And I have never seen a ranger (or whatever they are) set foot out of their truck. So what critical services is the State providing in a State Forest?? Oh wait, that's right, they're timbering and profiting from the land. And eliminating the whitetail herd. And fencing in sections (that ironically look suspiciously like the non fenced in sections) to see what happens if the deer (they already eliminated) don't eat saplings.


A State Park may be a different story, but don't you dare try to limit our access to State Forests. Unbelievable.
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
May 31, 2009
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,859 posts
Here's more follow up to the threat to close PA Parks and Forest. Please note, Linn Run/Laurel Mountain State Parks are on the list of parks to be closed. This could kill Laurel for good. Please act.

PA Residents, PA Parks and Forest Needs Your Help
Leo
June 1, 2009
Member since 11/15/2005 🔗
279 posts
Originally Posted By: Leo
So what critical services is the State providing in a State Forest?? Oh wait, that's right, they're timbering and profiting from the land.


And from the article:

Responding to a Republican suggestion to raise money for department operations by leasing more state forest land for oil and gas drilling, the letter states it will consider future lease sales if they would not jeopardize the state forests' sustainability certification. More than 660,000 acres of state forest are leased for oil and gas exploration and the revenue was used not for forests and parks funding but to cover part of this year's general fund deficit.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09148/973337-113.stm#ixzz0HBc6SOYI&B


If you're not angry, you're not paying attention.
hockeydave
June 4, 2009
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
If anyone thinks that the Nuttings are going to do anything to open Laurel with one nickel of their own money, please read:

http://www.postgazette.com/pg/09155/975012-63.stm

Also, McLouth signed a three-year $15.75 million contract in February. The contract called for him to receive $3 million this season, $4.5 million in 2010 and $6.5 million in 2011. There also was a club option for $10.65 million in 2012. As soon as a guy reaches star status (i.e. they have to pay him big $$$$), GONE!

Getting back to Laurel, I know for certain that it won't open this year, and given the state's budget problems (no money coming from them) and the poor economy, they have every excuse to sit on Laurel and do nothing with it.
JimK - DCSki Columnist
June 4, 2009
Member since 01/14/2004 🔗
2,726 posts
My son is going to St. Vincent College near Laurel Mtn next fall, so he is pulling for Laurel's resurrection (but got a student pass at Seven Springs just in case).
No pity for Pirates fans from us in DC. We'll trade you the Nationals lock, stock, and barrel for the Pirates.
Leo
June 4, 2009
Member since 11/15/2005 🔗
279 posts
Sorry Jim, no deal. We only like teams that spell their own names right on their uniforms.

grin
GGNagy
June 4, 2009
Member since 01/5/2006 🔗
451 posts
Originally Posted By: JimK
My son is going to St. Vincent College near Laurel Mtn next fall, so he is pulling for Laurel's resurrection (but got a student pass at Seven Springs just in case).


He really should be pulling for the resurrection of Sugarloaf, as it is a short bike ride from campus to Youngstown, PA.
snowsmith - DCSki Supporter
June 4, 2009
Member since 03/15/2004 🔗
1,367 posts
St. Vincents is in Greensburg, a short ride to Laurel.

Given the economic environment, I also doubt Laurel will open this season. Maybe the Springs can request some TARP money? crazy
hockeydave
June 4, 2009
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
Is Sugarloaf the old ski area on Baggaley Ridge? I've heard about it and talked to at least 1 person who skied there.

It looks like there is a better chance of that reopening than Laurel.
The Colonel - DCSki Supporter
June 4, 2009
Member since 03/5/2004 🔗
3,107 posts
[quote=JimK]My son is going to St. Vincent College near Laurel Mtn next fall, so he is pulling for Laurel's resurrection (but got a student pass at Seven Springs just in case).
Jim,
Congratulations to Vince (and you) about St. Vincent College. Or should I say "Ouch" since I suspect tuition is going to be a real hit to Dad's wallet.
Obviously you will be making the trek to Sever Springs on numerous occaisons. Maybe we can hit the same weekend?
Have a great summer, my friend. And again, congrats to Vince, he is a special young man.
The Colonel smile
GGNagy
June 5, 2009
Member since 01/5/2006 🔗
451 posts
Originally Posted By: hockeydave
Is Sugarloaf the old ski area on Baggaley Ridge? I've heard about it and talked to at least 1 person who skied there.

It looks like there is a better chance of that reopening than Laurel.


Baggaley (the town) is south of Youngstown. Sugarbush was at the top of St Clair Hollow, which is immeidately west of where Chestnut Ridge is intersected by US 30. Not much left at Sugarbush and it is a private property.
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
June 16, 2009
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,859 posts
I just spent a week at Linn Run State Park renting their CCC built rustic cabins and enjoying some peace and long hikes in the park and adjoining Forbes State Forest. I also hiked the ski area.

I spoke with Doug Finger, park manager. There is no official news concerning Laurel because the immediate concern was the pending budget cuts and why Linn Run was on the DCNR list of parks to be closed considering the park generates revenue equivalent to 20% of its budget. I understand that Senate Bill 850 was killed in the House so the immediate threat has passed for now but a new budget needs to be in place by July. There could be more repercussions soon. As a side note, Blue Knob State Park was also on the list of parks to be closed.

With the budget deficit and economic downturn all consuming Harrisburg, I doubt there will be any news concerning Laurel. In this case I think no news is good news. Until the DCNR says they've pulled the plug or Seven Springs says they've lost interest there is still hope.

As for the mountain itself. Last Fall all of the upper mountain slopes were mowed. Lower Wildcat was not and now sports 3 to 4 year old saplings. Grass in now tall on the upper slopes but all in all, the slopes and trails are in good shape, no major erosion. It looks like Seven Springs is using the Lodge for storage but nothing has been done there. Laurel Summit Road from Rt. 30 was undergoing a major tar and chip resurfacing and that includes the access road from Laurel Summit back to the ski area and the parking lot loop. This included cleaning drainage both along side and culverts under the road. Both the Summit Rd. and the access road were paved with asphalt in 2000 so this latest work is probably routine maintenance.

I know the subject has been brought up before but is there any interest in forming a Laurel Mountain volunteer group to do trail maintenance under park manager supervision? I'm sure Seven Springs will be involved too. I think now is the time for interested folks to take a bigger role in keeping interest going. I can get the details on the volunteer program but I sure could use some help rounding up bodies and finding a date that will work. Are there any volunteers?
scootertig
June 16, 2009
Member since 02/19/2006 🔗
365 posts
If we clear it, can we ski it (provided Mother Nature cooperates)? I'd be willing to put some time in if it meant a nice place to earn some "faux in-bounds" turns this winter. I think it'll be a good one...


aaron
camp
June 16, 2009
Member since 01/30/2005 🔗
599 posts
Originally Posted By: scootertig
If we clear it, can we ski it
That would be key for me. I do it for bike trails all the time, I'd do it to ski too (though I do live 2.5 hours from Laurel...)

Establishing a xc/backcountry/touring ski club might be timely? Clubs can offer work that might be of interest to DCNR? At least, this model works a lot for mtn biking, skiing may be too big an animal for this.
Leo
June 17, 2009
Member since 11/15/2005 🔗
279 posts
I'm not sure that the DCNR will ever allow poaching on LM.

I could be wrong, but my guess is the only way they will explicitly allow skiing at LM is if the resort is open.

With that said, what they don't know or catch you doing doesn't hurt anyone.
GGNagy
June 17, 2009
Member since 01/5/2006 🔗
451 posts
back in the 80s, Innsbrook or whatever what far skiers left at the time, was part of the x-c trail map for the park. (Of course, my recollection was also that you could only ascend the slope, keeping X-C skiers far right)

"oops I dropped something and I have to go back..."

Originally Posted By: Leo
I'm not sure that the DCNR will ever allow poaching on LM.

I could be wrong, but my guess is the only way they will explicitly allow skiing at LM is if the resort is open.

With that said, what they don't know or catch you doing doesn't hurt anyone.
RobertW
June 17, 2009
Member since 10/14/2004 🔗
199 posts
Originally Posted By: Laurel Hill Crazie
Are there any volunteers?


If it fits into the schedule, yes.
skibum
June 20, 2009
Member since 12/3/2007 🔗
79 posts
good new or bull?

This is in response to your e-mail correspondence addressed to Governor
Edward G. Rendell regarding the potential improvements of the

ski area at Laurel Mountain State Park. The Governor's Office has released
the funding for this very important project, and the Department of
Conservation and Natural Resources is currently working with the Department
of General Services to hire a design consultant.



This project will fulfill the goal and vision that many local community
leaders have had for Laurel Mountain, by rebuilding the ski resort into a
community asset that will bring with it new jobs and local tourism and
bolster the ski industry in the Laurel Highlands. The Department has also
recently partnered with Seven Springs to be the new concessionaire at Laurel
Mountain. Although Laurel Mountain is listed as a park that may close
should DCNR's budget be drastically reduced, this concessionaire would not
close. Due to its independent operation, it would remain open; however,
there would be no park services provided to them.



Thank you for your continued interest in Pennsylvania State Parks. If you
have any questions, feel free to contact Dave Barrett, Chief of the Park
Operations and Maintenance Division, Bureau of State Parks, at 717-783-3307.

John W. Norbeck

Director

Bureau of State Parks
JohnL
June 20, 2009
Member since 01/6/2000 🔗
3,518 posts
Quote:
Originally Posted By: Laurel Hill Crazie
Are there any volunteers?


If it fits into the schedule, yes.


Likewise. Though I'll piss on anything Pens related. wink Mebbe not a bad way to clear a line through the trees ...
JohnL
June 20, 2009
Member since 01/6/2000 🔗
3,518 posts
Quote:
My son is going to St. Vincent College near Laurel Mtn next fall, so he is pulling for Laurel's resurrection (but got a student pass at Seven Springs just in case).


JimK, congrats. Comp Sci and skiing are not a bad combo for the rest of your life.
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
June 20, 2009
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,859 posts
I'd say that this is good new but I am surprised that Director Norbeck would make this statement considering the budget battle that is going on. This is sure to be a lightning rod issue for many who now seek to further reduce the DCNR's budget.

So this information may be a double edged sword. On one hand it is the most concrete evidence that Laurel will be re-opened at some point. On the other hand, it will be used as a political football and portrayed as wasteful government pork spending. We should be prepared to defend this initiative as employment creation and tourism stimulus.

Getting together a volunteer group to help out the DCNR with simple maintenance task through their Conservation Volunteer Program would be one way to do this. It would give many Laurel supporters an opportunity to meet face to face and be a formal support and advocate group for Laurel Mountain State Park. This group could also be a very active part of the Friends of Linn Run and Forbes Forest as a Laurel Mountain Alpine Committee giving us the ability to raise money under a 501(c)3 non-profit.

Since there has been some interest shown I've contacted Doug Finger, manager at Linn Run, and he will support a conservation volunteer program for the ski area. We can focus and established trail maintenance such as rock clean up at rocky corner on Dream as well as brushing back new growth along the length of Dream. Lower Wildcat now has some saplings growing and other natural snow trails could be cleaned as well. We can always pick up dead fall and even offer to stack it for retrieval for fire wood for use in the lodge. The Midway Cabin is in need of repair and I can envision securing grants to help with historic preservation and interpretation.

Any other ideas? Remember, we will be working under the direction of the park manager with permission from Seven Springs as well so cutting new trails will not happen. That will be up to the DCNR and the contractor that wins the bid but I can see how we could offer our opinions as to the where and why of future development. I think this would be a great way to keep Laurel in the public eye while doing tangible works to move Laurel forward. Let's look at getting something together this summer with at least one work date established for July or August.

JohnL can even fulfill his lost wager by wearing a Pens tee shirt while doing volunteer work at Laurel.
JohnL
June 20, 2009
Member since 01/6/2000 🔗
3,518 posts
Quote:
JohnL can even fulfill his lost wager by wearing a Pens tee shirt while doing volunteer work at Laurel.


I'll do my penance on the ski slopes, during winter. I may not be too graceful that day. laugh

Pens or no Pens, sign me up for volunteer work at LM. It's a movement that transcends rivalries.
imp
June 21, 2009
Member since 01/11/2007 🔗
238 posts
Midway cabin is on the pa state historical register. The linclon Highway heritage foundation was at one time interested in helping fund restoration.
The State has met with two design groups about refurbishing the ski area. Those plans could be used and once the state does thier own enginering work could start even this fall.
I will not hold my breath.
If you want to do trail work and get permission to do so count
the Laurel Mountain ski patrol in. We know the trails better than anyone, and I will argue and win that battle.

imp
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
June 21, 2009
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,859 posts
Imp, I think the Laurel Mountain Ski Patrol taking an active role in this would be great. It could be just the thing we need to get this off the ground. I hope that Heather, LMV and others will post their ideas here or talk to Doug about clean up projects. This will help get the ball rolling. We need a plan and we need to start looking at dates to meet.
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
June 21, 2009
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,859 posts
Imp, I think the Laurel Mountain Ski Patrol taking an active role in this would be great. It could be just the thing we need to get this off the ground. I hope that Heather, LMV and others will post their ideas here or talk to Doug about clean up projects. This will help get the ball rolling. We need a plan and we need to start looking at dates to meet.
SwissMountain
June 22, 2009
Member since 05/18/2007 🔗
66 posts
I do believe you need the local township especially Ligonier's support. In the past they did not support the resort in the same manner like you all do here on the site. Get the business communities going and we might see a movement. A LM without Ligonier won't work.
hockeydave
June 22, 2009
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
I agree SwissMountain. I am continually amazed at the amount of people from Ligonier who have never skied Laurel but are regulars at 7S.

I think Mayor Bellas would be the point man on getting the business community and community at large involved. I also think most (but not all) of the full and part time residents of Laurel Mountain Village would want to be involved too.
snowsmith - DCSki Supporter
June 23, 2009
Member since 03/15/2004 🔗
1,367 posts
Originally Posted By: skibum

the funding for this very important project, and the Department of
Conservation and Natural Resources is currently working with the Departmentof General Services to hire a design consultant.




I am curious as to why the DGS would hire a design consultant? Why wouldn't 7Springs be responsible for this? Knowing the State process for this type of activity, it will take probably 2 years to get these improvements under construction.
SwissMountain
June 23, 2009
Member since 05/18/2007 🔗
66 posts
The reason is as simple as check and balance. Seven Springs does its part but as you all know the state has a big portion of the funding for ....well paper work. Anytime you deal with the State and/or federal government as a business time is not on your site. Seven Springs also needs to be carefule since they will run the resort "only" for the next 10 years. Buying a new chairlift will last for 30 years. As you can see they are not willing to spend the money as a business for such investments. The state needs to buy such capital investments.

That's another reason why the state has a design firm. Seven Springs has all the knowledge and expert for designing a resort.
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
June 23, 2009
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,859 posts
The major capital outlay is coming from the state for a state park facility. Seven Springs is the leaser, not the owner. It would be irresponsible for the DCNR to turn over the money and told Seven Spring to do what they want. I think the state is paying for a bit more than 'paperwork', as SwissMountain characterizes the state portion.

Say what you want about government bureaucracy but I wouldn't want it any other way. After all, it is my money (PA tax payers) that will be spent on this project not Seven Springs'. The process maybe slower but it might move faster because the state is overseeing the design and construction. All the state regulations, both environmental and business will be easier met under state supervision.

I would suspect that we will know who the 'designer' is by late summer. I hope that the design team will be Jack Johnson Company or the SE Group, both with a successful record in ski area design. I still don't think Laurel will open this coming season. I hope that all improvements will be in place before Laurel opens for business.
SwissMountain
June 23, 2009
Member since 05/18/2007 🔗
66 posts
I disagree with you on the designing firms. If you ever worked for let's say Intrawest or for conversation reason lets use Seven Seven Springs they will tell you the opposite of your opinion on the Talent such companies bring with them. If you ever skied at the springs (just to stay local) you will see that Polar Bear express lift is not only in the wrong location also has one of the worst unloading and loading areas that I saw. Ok...to have the State overseeing the project is more then OK.

And by the way, it looks more like the mountain will be open for business Ski Season 11.12.

Lead time for chair lifts and snowmaking equipment will take some time. An initial engineering/survey plan has to be done now not when you want to build it. Traditionally a planning takes at least 16 months even with a design company you mentioned.
SwissMountain
June 23, 2009
Member since 05/18/2007 🔗
66 posts
We all here should become part of the planning team and not a company from lets say out West. You all know better the resort then anyone.

With help from Seven Springs and the State "we the skiers" should be the force behind the engine.
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
June 23, 2009
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,859 posts
Where would you have place the load and unload terminals for the Polar Bear Express? The unload area can be a real mess but the previous lift unload too far from the summit making it an uphill slide to get to the North Face. That was true of the double and the quad that the six replaced.

I've skied Seven Springs when all there was on the North Face was the North Face and the Northwest Passage trail. The lifts where a fixed double with foot rests and a poma surface lift underneath. The hill had a lot more character then. I always assumed that is was the Seven Springs management team that clear cut the North Face area to mimic western bowl skiing.

SwissM, I disagree with you. I'd rather have an outside resort designer oversee a master plan but I also wish there were some opportunity to get public input and I also hope the design would respect the historic nature of one of the nation's first commercial ski resorts. I don't mean to say we should ski a museum but when you have the original lodge that dates back to the late '30s and a Hannes Schneider designed trail, you should preserve that character and history. Maybe we can have some influence on the final design if we can get a volunteer group together.
GGNagy
June 24, 2009
Member since 01/5/2006 🔗
451 posts
Originally Posted By: Laurel Hill Crazie
Where would you have place the load and unload terminals for the Polar Bear Express? The unload area can be a real mess but the previous lift unload too far from the summit making it an uphill slide to get to the North Face. That was true of the double and the quad that the six replaced.

I've skied Seven Springs when all there was on the North Face was the North Face and the Northwest Passage trail. The lifts where a fixed double with foot rests and a poma surface lift underneath. The hill had a lot more character then. I always assumed that is was the Seven Springs management team that clear cut the North Face area to mimic western bowl skiing.

SwissM, I disagree with you. I'd rather have an outside resort designer oversee a master plan but I also wish there were some opportunity to get public input and I also hope the design would respect the historic nature of one of the nation's first commercial ski resorts. I don't mean to say we should ski a museum but when you have the original lodge that dates back to the late '30s and a Hannes Schneider designed trail, you should preserve that character and history. Maybe we can have some influence on the final design if we can get a volunteer group together.


Polar Bear Express is why I miss Sunrise/Sunset. wink

Polar Bear Express unload is the best compromise for people skiing in 3 different directions (4 if you count Tahoe Lodge.)
SwissMountain
June 24, 2009
Member since 05/18/2007 🔗
66 posts
It should not be the question if it is better then it used to be the question should have been how can we make it even better. Since the polar bear is bread and butter lift the unloading area should be a small drop and the loading should always be where you can control the people. The current situation does not allow you to control the skiers. Hotel guest walk through he "beginner" area to get to the lift even though they could use the carpet or the other lift (not always open).

Anyway, I believe LM should and will need a local advisory group just like other mountains did. Since we are spending PA Tax money lets use at "least" a PA firm.

I believe the real question will be - How much desire the State has to push the project? I am not sure how much they like to see it open since there are many issues that we here on this forum not even talked about.
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
June 24, 2009
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,859 posts
SwissM, please don't read any hostility toward your opinions from me, I'm just curious and now you really have my interest when you allude to other issues. Is there anything you care to share?

I see your point about the placement of the Polar 6 but as GGNagy points out it is a compromise to meet many different needs. Just as many skiers come in from the Convention Center entrance or the skiers drop off by the Skier Services Building as do from the hotel, if not more. I think the 6 is placed about as well as it could have been and again, I was under the impression that all of the Springs design was done in house.

I wish there were a ski resort design company based in PA but there is not. I think this job is too important to be done by a general contractor or road grading firm. If you mean to imply that Seven Springs should be the design company then I would again have to disagree. I would be afraid that Laurel would become a Seven Springs clone.

For example, when Laurel re-opened in 1999 George Mowl hired Seven Springs staff to design and install the snow making. They brought their knowledge and snow making system, HKD air/water towers with multiple heads. These are among the most efficient snow making guns in the industry, no doubt. They did an excellent job but many on the staff at Laurel felt it was the wrong system for Laurel. This system is great for the wide open slopes of 7S and works fine because 7S has the groomer fleet to move the snow where it is needed. At Laurel where you have one or two groomers and narrow trails how do you push the snow from the forest or the parking lot? I'll ski in the trees but most customers won't and nobody would pay to ski on snow that contains road gravel, sand or salt.

Anyway, my point is that I think a design consultant with full knowledge of the industry options and experience with many types of environments would be a better pick then Seven Springs or any other PA based general contractor. I think the SE Group is an east coast based company if that really matters. I think that a designer would then hire local crews to execute the design.

I was on the advisory board, although a very late addition, when Laurel reopened in 1999 and I would love to be on a new board but I would no more trust me to come up with the right design then Joe's road grading company or John's industrial compressed air and water pumping company. What I would like to see in a revamped Laurel may not be what the general public wants. What I see as the right niche for Laurel maybe financially untenable. What I would like to see in a physical facility maybe unrealistic from an engineering or economic stand point.

Laurel needs an objective, qualified design firm to develop a master plan.
snowsmith - DCSki Supporter
June 24, 2009
Member since 03/15/2004 🔗
1,367 posts
I guess my concern is not so much who they hire to do the design, although Snow Engineering would be ideal, but rather the time it takes government to get an engineering consultant on board and then actually under contract doing the design. I know because that is my business. It can take a year to get an engineering firm under contract. With Seven Springs doing the contacting, they don't have to go through the State Procurement process and it could get done much quicker. Of course we would be stuck with HKD equipment not that is totally a bad thing. I agree that their equipment is not suited to narrow trails perhaps. But neither are the Techno Alpine guns at HV. I just wish they would go for it and open the place this winter. That's what stimulating the economy is all about...jobs and this would create jobs.
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
June 24, 2009
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,859 posts
Fast or right, can we have both? Hoops have to be jumped through and all bases must be touched. That's the nature of the beast. I sure hope that SwissM is wrong about opening for '11-'12 season and we see Laurel open for the '10-'11 season. I am getting old and would like to ski Laurel before I get too decrepit.
SwissMountain
June 25, 2009
Member since 05/18/2007 🔗
66 posts
Yes Seven Springs used Jack Johnson design firm for many of their projects. Anyway, I hope and wish LM will open soon but this will only happened if the State lets the Springs team design a master plan with the oversee of the State and the advisory board. Believe me they have many new peple with a lot of industry experience as well as environmentel intrest.

Snowsmith believe me the Springs are not going to use HKD snowmaking system. The Nuttings do not like the Dupres. The Springs are using the best material for the project. Think for one minute guys.....they could and/or will use LM for testing the possible best snowmaking system possible....automation is of course the way to go since labor has to be cut anywhere. The springs already tested different companies. LM could be under Springs design become one of the first fully RFID mountain.

The fact is if the State is looking for a design firm but did not do the engineering on their part this will be a long process.
imp
June 25, 2009
Member since 01/11/2007 🔗
238 posts
The Jackjohnson company did a preliminary design for Laurel Mt
which kept the trails narrow and twisty.
Infrastructure for snowmaking at this time does not include electric power along the trails for snowmaking, the power for the lights would not be adequate. IF you go to a fan gun system it might be possible to pull more power lines thru the airlines that go to each gun.
Any work done should try and reopen the existing trails that havn't been in use for decades.
Who ever owns the lodge needs to do some maintance as soon as possible...
imp
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
June 26, 2009
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,859 posts
Sorry SwissM, I can hardly believe that the only way for Laurel to open early is for the DCNR to give 7S all the money and permission to do as they please. From the rumors that I've heard things like narrowing Lower Wildcat because skiers right side is too difficult to groomed, shortening the quad at the Midway cabin and building an impoundment pond below on Timber Top are a few examples of what I consider questionable ideas. Using the old Gunnar triple chair is hardly "the best material for the project". Perhaps they are good solutions but I would like to hear the rational.

SwissM, I wish you would stop trying to set up the DCNR as a scape goat in case things don't move as rapidly as we wish or Seven Springs doesn't get every thing they want. I'm sure that Seven Springs has submitted their bid for the design and the DCNR may pick them. This is a vetting process that is intended to safe guard both the tax payer and the environment. To do so through established state procedure is the only way to avoid the appearance of favoritism or impropriety. Cynics or those with other agendas can argue otherwise, I'm sure.
snowsmith - DCSki Supporter
June 26, 2009
Member since 03/15/2004 🔗
1,367 posts
Originally Posted By: imp
The Jackjohnson company did a preliminary design for Laurel Mt
which kept the trails narrow and twisty.



Do you have some kind of conceptual drawing showing what is planned? Can you share it with us?
SwissMountain
June 26, 2009
Member since 05/18/2007 🔗
66 posts
I am not blaming any organization or entity at this point and/or want a quick fix either. I just want to make sure we are all on the same page regarding the timetable of any project it will take at LM. I personally do not hear nor do I get the feeling Ligonier is in full swing to support another LM reopening. Too many times did they hear YES we are going to be open for business. Anyway, I believe we will be open for 11.12 season at the earliest.

Good Luck guys
GGNagy
June 26, 2009
Member since 01/5/2006 🔗
451 posts
I thought the Gunnar Triple allready went somewhere in the NE.
imp
June 26, 2009
Member since 01/11/2007 🔗
238 posts
check at the Linn RUn Park office, they should have a copy of
the JJ report that was done.
The state is using the money to do Park infrastructure improvements. To do so they must do their own studies as well as those from another entity. The costs go up as the state must pay prevailing wage and such.
imp
SwissMountain
June 26, 2009
Member since 05/18/2007 🔗
66 posts
GGNagy: The old gunner chair lift is up by the old airport at Seven Springs
SwissMountain
June 26, 2009
Member since 05/18/2007 🔗
66 posts
The old gunner lift was an option at one point in the process. But like LaurelHillCrazie pointed out this would be no option for LM. A typical lift has a life expectation of 30-40 years....of course there are many factors to determent that. Anyway LM would be better of to get a new lift since even refurnish the old lift would cost a lot of money and at the end of the day.....you still only have an old lift.
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
June 26, 2009
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,859 posts
Sorry for the wrong interpretation, SwissM. Printed internet forums do not lend themselves to nuances. I just get a little peeved when I see government bashing. It's not because I'm naive about the speed and efficiency of government but I believe most public servant try to do a good job. Also I think that when we expect the worst we set low standards for performance. We should expect and demand a high level of performance instead of sowing doubt and harvesting an apathetic public.
bousquet19 - DCSki Supporter
June 26, 2009
Member since 02/23/2006 🔗
701 posts
Originally Posted By: Laurel Hill Crazie
Sorry for the wrong interpretation, SwissM. Printed internet forums do not lend themselves to nuances. I just get a little peeved when I see government bashing. It's not because I'm naive about the speed and efficiency of government but I believe most public servant try to do a good job. Also I think that when we expect the worst we set low standards for performance. We should expect and demand a high level of performance instead of sowing doubt and harvesting an apathetic public.




Well said, Laurel Hill Crazie. Let's expect the best from our governments and those who work in the public sector.

Woody
SwissMountain
June 29, 2009
Member since 05/18/2007 🔗
66 posts
Laurel Hill Crazie don't blame me for an insufficient LM. Apparently whatever we did the last several years did not work. If we are all serious about the project we would have to close the resort for good. I am sick of you telling I am anti government regulations, oversee the project or take the lead in the project. Again look back the last 10 years and tell me I am wrong. It looks like we all like to have a little private ski resorts for all us privileged but for your info it does not support a resort.

And please stop blaming me for it....I guess we don't have any news from LM because nothing will move on before they resolve some of the main issues. The past management (F.Y.I: Laurel Hill Crazie don't blame Seven Springs for that) did not invest much money and you can see it today. Snowmaking pipes are so outdated that you need to replace the entire snowmaking system. The PSI is so high at the lowest point that it could exploide anytime during operation. Talking about diesel compressors.....well I guess you know that.

Anyway, a business cannot work under the assumption of x-efficiency. Have a management in place who knows how to run a resort and work with the state to make it work for more than a year. Give the operating management a little freedom and you will see that entrepreneurship will work. LM has more regulation then many other resorts and that's good and needs to be that way. LM is a very small operation on a ski resort scale and doesn't take a scientist to figure out what is needed to run a resort.......a lift, little snowmaking, groomer, slopes.....well that's it.

Work on real solutions and we would have again a great place for our families. I love LM.
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
June 29, 2009
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,859 posts
SwisM, I guess you didn't read my apologies for misinterpreting your statements so I will apologize again for characterizing your statements wrong or if I sound hostile or seem to be attacking you personally. That is not my intention.

I know that Bob Nutting was not the principle owner nor was he involved with management when Seven Springs ran Laurel. I know you were not even involved with Seven Springs at that time either. I know that George Mowl opened with limited capital and other mistakes were made.

We want the same thing, a properly designed, refitted Laurel Mountain capable of attracting and building an adequate base of customers that can sustain Laurel and provide the leaser with enough profit to make the effort worthwhile.
SwissMountain
June 30, 2009
Member since 05/18/2007 🔗
66 posts
Sorry Laurel Hill Crazie....I misunderstood your comment.
skibum
June 30, 2009
Member since 12/3/2007 🔗
79 posts
keep the faith my friend thing are moving in the right direction.skibum
hockeydave
June 30, 2009
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
Four "right direction" turns after traveling equal distances gets you back where you started, which seems to be where we are now. I'm up for going in wrong direction and see where that takes us.
SwissMountain
July 1, 2009
Member since 05/18/2007 🔗
66 posts
You might be right hockeydave. I believe we need an oversee board but entrepreneurship needs to be part of a successful outcome of any business.
savelaurel
July 2, 2009
Member since 01/6/2009 🔗
5 posts
If there is an interest in an alpine advisory committe as part of the Friends Linn Run State Park Forbes State Forest we should plan to get a meeting in by the end of July or early August. I would propose the following agenda:
1.) Historical Overview: Lessons learned
2.) Overall Vision: LM is a state park with restrictions: In some cases those restrictions have kept certain integrety to the mountain. Vision for Laurel needs to incorporate nostalgic elements and value of history
3.) What are the boundaries in terms of this ski area on public land, with restrictive covenants.
4.) Jack Johnson Recommentdations
5.) Priorities of Needs First Year
Five Year

Just for starters. Recognizing that many on this forum may have valuable input but may not be able to attend physical meetings, should there be an internet or web element?

Weekday evenings or Weekends in Ligonier?
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
July 2, 2009
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,859 posts
savelaurel, welcome to DCSki. I like your handle and I like your thinking. Earlier in this thread I proposed a volunteer group to help with routine maintenance and special tasks at Laurel. I would add that to the agenda as well. I'm good for either weekends or weekday evenings but I would prefer weekday evenings with Tuesday being the exception. If we do this under the existing friends group I'm sure we can find a free meeting room. I can look into that. I'll contact Linn Run/Forbes Forest Friends Group members to get a green light. I can also contact members of the last advisory committee. They would be invaluable for item 1 on your agenda.

I'll be on vacation July 10 through July 18. Any time after that will be open. I think a real face to face meeting is the way to start.

As for an internet component, I was once told that you could set up an invitation only chat room at yahoo. Any tech people out there that can help with this. We could have virtual meetings as an option if not the primary meeting.

Does any one think that starting a new thread to announce the formation of a new advisory group is needed? I think that all parties interested in Laurel are already reading this thread but a new one maybe useful.
hockeydave
July 2, 2009
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
I would also propose that state & local politicians (although most likely won't attend) as well as a representative of Seven Springs (maybe not the 1st meeting, however). These are the people who will ultimately affect the future of Laurel, both from a funding as well as an operational point of view. Meeting amongst ourselves will be like a tree falling in a forest... you know the rest.
SwissMountain
July 6, 2009
Member since 05/18/2007 🔗
66 posts
I like the idea of actually of having a meeting and discuss the agenda that Savelaurel had posted. There are many restrictions but also many opportunities that previous hasn't been explored. Since I work for Seven Springs I might not be the best candidate to be at the first meeting. But I do have a private interest in the mountain since I life below LM and many of my friends care and love the mountain.
savelaurel
July 6, 2009
Member since 01/6/2009 🔗
5 posts
Swissmountain: I think you would be a fine candidate for a " first meeting " of this proposed committee. Once ideas are hammered out, and a list of options / recommendations are developed I'm hopeful the leadership at 7 Springs will be open to this form of dialouge. On that note I could envision this committe made up of 7 Springs rep, DCNR rep, Ski Patrol, Ski School, Local stakeholders, businesses, skiers, and the Laurel Highlands visitor's bureau. It never hurts to have advocates, and cheerleaders on your team to get out a positive message. Who should put this meeting together? Leadership Time!
imp
July 7, 2009
Member since 01/11/2007 🔗
238 posts
The best place for such a meeting would be the actual ski lodge.
If the state gets its act together and keeps Linn Run open
The park Superintendant could get us in for a meeting or
hold it at his office.
Laurel Hill Crazie is the best bet for a put together guy.
Sorry but you win it LHC.
A small meeting is better to start than a general freefor all,
this was proven the last two times we tried this.
If not at Linn Run then the Mayor might get us in the town hall.

imp
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
July 7, 2009
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,859 posts
Thanks for the vote of confidence imp, I think. I'm willing to do this but I'll be leaving for vacation on Friday and I'll be tied up the rest of this week. I'll have plenty of time when I get back but I'll make a few calls this week.

If someone else wants to step up and get things moving while I'm away I'll lend my time to support that effort when I'm back in town. I'll have my lap top with me and I'll seek out free wi-fi when I can so I'll check in here to keep appraised.
David
July 7, 2009
Member since 06/28/2004 🔗
2,444 posts
The 500th post!!! Sweet!!!


Carry on...
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
July 18, 2009
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,859 posts
SwissMountain, please check your private messages.
hockeydave
July 27, 2009
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
I heard about this item while up in the Village this weekend and confirmed:

http://www.tribune-democrat.com/archivesearch/local_story_197234651.html

This should help pave the wave to getting Laurel opened at some point in the next couple of years. I know this was a huge problem, given that sewage from the lodge had to be trucked to the existing small sewage plant in the Village. This also prevented future home construction in the Village. 7S currently owns 400 lots, so that excuse (can't develop LMV) is eliminated from the equation of getting Laurel reopened.

Also, I did hear a rumor that 7S has not ruled out opening Laurel this winter, although I suspect that there is almost no chance of it happening.

BTW: Laurel Summit Road has been chipped & oiled from US 30 all the way back to the ski lodge. Nothing has been done at the lodge, although I did hear that the slopes were cut about a month ago (didn't confirm).
snowsmith - DCSki Supporter
July 27, 2009
Member since 03/15/2004 🔗
1,367 posts
In my opinion, this is the key to the success of this ski area. If 7S can develop the lots, that's where the real money is. The ski area will add value to those lots. And of course lots with houses on them will supply skiers...a symbiotic relationship.

So 7 Springs is getting $6.0 mil for the ski area and close to $3/4 mil for providing sewage for the lots.
They better open the frickin' ski area mad mad
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
July 27, 2009
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,859 posts
I heard about the grant too. Snowsmith, just to be clear on how the money flows. The DCNR will spend the $6 million and the grant goes to Jenner Township. Seven Springs will certainly benefit but they will not control the money.
skibum
July 29, 2009
Member since 12/3/2007 🔗
79 posts
water and sewage has been a big stumbling block for things to move forward at laurel mt. skibum
imp
July 30, 2009
Member since 01/11/2007 🔗
238 posts
7 springs has taken control of a large number of lots in Laurel Mt Village but not all. THere are quite a number of lots they do not control, thus they are not the only landowner benifiting from the sewage improvement. The people who live there now and those who own lots will gain a lot. The sewage holding tanks at the ski area were also dumped at the village which means a short haul..

imp
pandita
August 2, 2009
Member since 08/2/2009 🔗
5 posts
I was up this weekend at Laurel Ridge, and hiked up to see the ski slopes. I walked around on top and saw that in the main lodge there were a lot of chairs and boxes. Is this a good sign?

I had been up a few weekends ago but did not hike up that way. It is a beautiful area... I can only hope it would open again. I think I saw some machinery on one of the slopes
hockeydave
August 3, 2009
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
Welcome "pandita"!

I noticed that LHC gave you an official welcome on the "Ice Breakers" forum.

Laurel is a special place. I truly hope that the management at Seven Springs and the state of Pennsylvania see the potential there also. For the 1st time in a year, I honestly believe there is some light at the end of the tunnel, albeit a 2010 re-opening is probably optimistic at this point.
hockeydave
August 29, 2009
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
Just to follow-up on my previous post, a 2010 reopening is not "probably optimistic", but completely unrealistic. Seven Springs will do absolutely nothing at Laurel until the state starts the ball rolling. I was told that 7S considers it "impolite" to start working on the reopening of Laurel without the state on board. Impolite?!@#$ What the he!! does that mean? If they wanted to, 7S could start some renovation at Laurel as a good faith gesture to the state that they intend to be a long-term operator of Laurel. I think if 7S started the renovation, the state might get its act together, and start kicking in some money. Someone, anyone, please explain to me why 7S can't start the ball rolling on their own. Did the previous operator (George Mowl) consider it "impolite" to start renovating Laurel after the lease was signed? My head is spinning. It's staring to look like 7S jumped into the Laurel game to keep Buncher from getting their hands on Laurel. I'm not sure what deal/lease was signed between DCNR and 7S, but if 7S has no intention of opening Laurel, even without the state's help, the state should void the lease and look for somebody else to operate it.
The Colonel - DCSki Supporter
August 29, 2009
Member since 03/5/2004 🔗
3,107 posts
hockeydave,
I suspect that the word "'impolite" as used in your quote below were not from any official statement from 7S about reopening Laurel. I am not surprised they would wait until sure the state is really going to effect their $ share of the Laurel upgrade before pouring more 7S $ into the project, maybe even a good business decision given the economy and the fact that the impact of the economy remains unknown for the upcoming ski season.
Hang in there! Laurel might still rise again!
The Colonel smile
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
August 29, 2009
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,859 posts
Dave, I understand and share your frustration but I but I just got information in the last few days that a lease agreement has not yet been signed. I heard this from a DCNR employee and a member of the Laurel Mountain Ski Patrol. The ski patrol maintains their certification by completing annual training. They have routinely done this at Laurel. When they ask Seven Springs permission to do so this year they were informed that a lease agreement was not signed.

I suspect that the budget deficit and on going budget deadlock in the legislature has a lot to do with this. Budget cuts threaten to close state parks. Even if the capital projects money was released by the governor (and it is not clear if money beyond hiring a design consultant has been)it just doesn't seem possible that the DCNR would move forward on Laurel.
hockeydave
August 29, 2009
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
Thanks for the encouragement Colonel and thanks for the update Rob. I assumed a lease was in place. I guess it would be impolite for 7S to perform any work at Laurel if a lease has not been signed. It sure would be nice to be informed of some official status from the DCNR since Laurel is our area, not the DCNR's; they are there just to maintain and oversee it for the residents of PA.

I guess the frustrating part is knowing that Buncher would have opened Laurel as a public service (and it would have made good business sense too) last year if the state wouldn't have dragged their feet with them. Now we're looking at 2011 at the very earliest and probably later.
Taylormatt
August 30, 2009
Member since 12/3/2004 🔗
339 posts
Originally Posted By: hockeydave
It's staring to look like 7S jumped into the Laurel game to keep Buncher from getting their hands on Laurel.


Sad, but true.
rjsherrin
August 31, 2009
Member since 09/28/2005 🔗
145 posts
This is the letter I posted and received July 8th from the Governors Office. The money is there. I called 7 Springs in May and asked them if they would be opening this year and was told they hadn't been up there and may send someone in June or July to look it over. I've had a feeling that they tied it up to keep Buncher out without putting out a lot of money.


The Governor's Office has released the funding for this very important project, and the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources is currently working with the Department of General Services to hire a design consultant.

This project will fulfill the goal and vision that many local community leaders have had for Laurel Mountain, by rebuilding the ski resort into a community asset that will bring with it new jobs and local tourism and bolster the ski industry in the Laurel Highlands. The DCNR has also recently partnered with Seven Springs to be the new concessionaire at Laurel Mountain. Although Laurel Mountain is listed as a park that may close should DCNR's budget be drastically reduced, this concessionaire would not close. Due to its independent operation, it would remain open; however, there would be no park services provided to them.

It seems at this time that Laurel will not open this ski season as there are numerous steps to complete before ski operations can begin.
snowsmith - DCSki Supporter
August 31, 2009
Member since 03/15/2004 🔗
1,367 posts
Originally Posted By: rjsherrin
The Governor's Office has released the funding for this very important project, and the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources is currently working with the Department of General Services to hire a design consultant.


I warned you all that the process of hiring a design consultant could take a year. That is just the way the procurement process works. This is business that I am in and it is frustrating. It takes for ever to get a contract in place to start the design.
hockeydave
September 1, 2009
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
I can say without a reasonable doubt that Buncher would have championed this effort (i.e. spent their own money) to reopen Laurel as a good faith gesture to the state. You can bet 7S will do absolutely NOTHING at Laurel except use the lodge as storage until the state puts everything in place to have Laurel reopened.

What a bunch of fools the folks are at the state level. Trust me, I have inside knowledge to back up the "bunch of fools" comment as well as Buncher's willingness to spend their own $$$$ to reopen Laurel.
Taylormatt
September 1, 2009
Member since 12/3/2004 🔗
339 posts
Originally Posted By: hockeydave
You can bet 7S will do absolutely NOTHING at Laurel except use the lodge as storage


This.
Edgar3
September 2, 2009
Member since 05/29/2007 🔗
149 posts
I am not aware of all the subtle details of how the 7S deal came about, and not to defend 7S or state officials, but to what degree may have Buncher dropped the ball that created the opening for 7S?

It seemed like 7S emerged as the one who was able/willing to strike a deal with Somerset Trust and buy the assets, and for whatever reason Buncher did not, perhaps since it was uncertain with respect to what the State would support and when. If you look at the current situation months later, there is still state uncertainty and 7S has their investment at risk unless the state comes through. You can't really blame 7S for not making further investment until the state comes through. As far as I am aware, Buncher never was looking to do anything without support from the state to improve the facilities, so wouldn't we be at the same point? The issue is really the state, and the economy, defecits etc have at least all given reason/excuse for things to move slow.

Meanwhile, lots of things seem to be on hold with Buncher at Hidden Valley and can't imagine that they would have be investing in LM this year when they are not moving on some of the core projects already announced at HV such as new ski lodge, outback lift etc. They have a very $$$ sewer line now stretching several miles along route 31 that basically goes nowhere since the proposed development seems to be on hold, or at least there is no news of any of this going forward; So Buncher seems to have their hands full just to get HV to a viable critical mass.
LValleygirl2009
September 2, 2009
Member since 09/1/2009 🔗
1 posts
Here, here, Edgar! Thank you for saying exactly what I had on my mind.

Gimme a break! What makes anyone think that this Buncher Group is the second coming of the Messiah? Laurel Mountain would still be EXACTLY where it is today if HV had gotten in there. And LEST WE FORGET - Buncher walked away from Laurel Mountain.

In the meantime, Buncher has thus far not cashed in on many of the promises it made when opening HV. And 7S is investing, investing and investing some more. Nice to see the place coming out of the 70s, and in some cases the 60s. Blecchhh!

I think we all need to stop being so negative and rally around Laurel and help the state and 7S get LM open!
snowsmith - DCSki Supporter
September 2, 2009
Member since 03/15/2004 🔗
1,367 posts
It is the curse of Laurel Mountain. Those nasty Mellon's who refused to fix the old South Fork Dam and washed away a couple thousand people in Johnstown gave the land to the State. There are probably ghosts from Johnstown wandering the property. George Mowl went bankrupt on the project. The next guy who bid on the property mysteriously died two weeks after winning the bid. Now we had a financial meltdown just as it looked like the resort might re-open. I say the placed is cursed. The lodge may be like that movie, "The Shining" with Jack Nicholson running around with an axe and the ghosts of the Johnstown flood riding up the chairlift with us.
Hell ...I am not sking at this place!!! wink
Leo
September 2, 2009
Member since 11/15/2005 🔗
279 posts
Here's a good thread to read if you want to see whether or not patrons of the resort think they are investing, investing, investing:

7S Bike Park

I know this is bike park stuff, but it's applicable. And there's some good stuff in the middle comparing snow quality b/w HV and 7S.
hockeydave
September 2, 2009
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
LValleyGirl2009. I wish I could reveal the names of the people who have dealt with the state. But I can't. Those who know me personally also know these people; they are major players. My statements about the state, 7S and Buncher opening Laurel are unassailable. Putting a couple of million into Laurel is quite different than spending $1 billion over a 30 year plan, as originally intended by Buncher at Hidden Valley. I have no doubt that if and when the economy picks up again, they will continue their master plan... currently, it has slowed, as any sound business would do during these uncertain times.

And what direction is management, ski instructors, and other support staff flowing? Many have exited 7S stage door left (or should I say north) and moved on to Hidden Valley. Ask any current manager/employee how they feel working for their respective owners. The contrast is stark. Employees at HV are very happy with their new owners. Same can't be said for 7S.

My days of "bashing" 7S and the state are over on this forum. I hope to ski Laurel again before I meet my Maker. I suspect I may not.

Now all I need to do is find a forum to "bash" the Succo's (Pittsburgh Pirates). Not backing in, but about to leap head first into 17 straight losing seasons. This is the all time record of any major franchised team of any sport!!!
Pop quiz: What major league baseball owner got a free, state of the art, beautiful stadium courtesy of the residents of PA, masquerades a AA team as major league franchise, has resorted to Arnold Palmer bobble-head night to entice fans (why Arnold are you allowing your name be tarnished?), holds fire sales just as players are coming into their prime (i.e. these guys want & deserve more money), and still make millions in profit despite a horrendous product?

Hey, what a scam. Wait a minute... maybe the owners are smarter than I thought. Nah, the plebeians are just stupid.
skibum
October 6, 2009
Member since 12/3/2007 🔗
79 posts
heard last week that the company that remade Boyce park is going to work to redo laurel. work to start in january? has any one heard anything about this ? skibum
ridgeman
October 7, 2009
Member since 09/5/2008 🔗
46 posts
Was at Seven Springs for the Willi's sale last Saturday and heard from an X-Laurel patroller that the draft Laurel plan was almost complete and included moving the tubing to the south of the Lodge area, snowmaking on all trails, clearing the goat path into a trial, moving the bottom and top of the double for better loading and unloading. No word on a new lift, but I'm thinking if you go to the trouble of moving the top and bottom of the lift they are probably thinking new lift. The draft plan calls for being open in the 10-11 Season.
hockeydave
October 7, 2009
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
Skibum & Ridgeman: I hope both of you are right. Given the bleak economy, employing people short term to restore Laurel and long term after it opens, even if it is only a couple dozen employees at most, is probably one of the wisest uses of government $$$$. People are rethinking western ski trips, and having 3 unique ski areas within 15 miles of each other should entice more folks to ski the Laurel Highlands.
hockeydave
October 12, 2009
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
I was told that 7S had a survey of existing season pass holders with at least 1 question geared towards their support of Laurel if it reopened.
skibum
October 20, 2009
Member since 12/3/2007 🔗
79 posts
on the survey the 7s made they had over 400 complaints on the food and food service's and snow making and grooming. a lot of feed back on L.M.as to the use of the area.and as a combined ski pass ski bum
Taylormatt
October 20, 2009
Member since 12/3/2004 🔗
339 posts
That tells me that

A) they only sent out around 400 surveys, or
B) a very large percent of people didn't bother replying to them.
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
October 20, 2009
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,859 posts
Skibum said over 400 complaints not total replies. Anybody know how many season pass holders for 7S? I would love to take a peek to the survey results.
Taylormatt
October 20, 2009
Member since 12/3/2004 🔗
339 posts
As bad as things were last year I'd expect a complaint on nearly every response, hence my post. If it was only ~400 complaints, then I'd say they only sent out ~400 surveys...or most people didn't bother responding to the survey. I can not imagine the positive comments outweighed the negative.

Nuttings will be the re-death of Laurel Mtn. Write it down.
hockeydave
October 21, 2009
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
Quote:
Nuttings will be the re-death of Laurel Mtn. Write it down.

That's funny!!! laugh

I hope you're wrong, though.
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
October 21, 2009
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,859 posts
Maybe we could interest George Romero in investing???
Taylormatt
October 21, 2009
Member since 12/3/2004 🔗
339 posts
Maybe Tom Savini too, he is always up at 7S...in jeans, gators, rear entries and straight skis. OK maybe not Savini.
LMskier
October 21, 2009
Member since 10/21/2009 🔗
5 posts
I have some more news that Laurel will open for the 2010-2011 ski season. A few weeks ago before the state budget got passed I spoke to somebody, their name shouldn't be said, but he had the paper work for the money the sate is putting out for laurel to reopen on his desk. He couldn't do anything with it until the budget got passed, but now its passed and the papers are moving on to get the money out to them.
skibum
October 22, 2009
Member since 12/3/2007 🔗
79 posts
i have heard the same thing on sat thought it mite be a rumor good new if it is true. the springs has been saying it will be open in 2010 2011 season skibum
skibum
October 23, 2009
Member since 12/3/2007 🔗
79 posts
The latest rumor from pittsburg is that wisp is to be sold and that the nuttings are involved, springs will help run wisp this year. .and
The engineering firm that the state has hired are the same who did Boyce park.any one have information on them?
hockeydave
October 24, 2009
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
If, in fact, the state hired the same people who did Boyce Park instead of people who really know the ski business (e.g. Jack Johnson) to plan, oversee & perform renovations at Laurel, then TaylorMatt's quote about the Nuttings being responsible for the re-death of Laurel won't be wholly true; the primary cause of re-death will be the state of Pennsylvania.
skibum
November 10, 2009
Member since 12/3/2007 🔗
79 posts
this e mail came form larry walsh . it is a replay to one that i sent him . on L.M
Good Evening,
Thanks for your e-mail and thanks for reading the
Post-Gazette.
Seven Springs and the DCNR have yet to come to an agreement
about a long-term lease (35 years) for Laurel Mountain. I'll be writing
about Laurel Mountain next month. December marks the first anniversary
of the agreement between Seven Springs and Somerset Trust to acquire the
on-site assets of the ski area -- lodge, lifts, snowmaking system,
snowgrooming equipment, etc.
I'll be meeting later this month with Seven Springs CEO Eric
Mauck and will question him about Laurel Mountain. One of his managers
told me that the resort doesn't plan to open Laurel Mountain until the
2011-2012 season because of all the work it needs to do.
-- Larry Walsh .
snowsmith - DCSki Supporter
November 10, 2009
Member since 03/15/2004 🔗
1,367 posts
5 YEARS AND THEY HAVE DONE NOTHING!
I'd say it is time we start e-mail the governer's office, local officials, state reps and make a big stink. The Buncher's can take that $6.0 million and get something done instead of keeping the ski area off the market.
hockeydave
November 11, 2009
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
snowsmith, I know this is a rarity, but on this occasion I will stick up for seven springs. The $6 million just recently got released from the state. And 7S couldn't do anything up there (assuming they wanted to) because they weren't allowed by the state. I am certain layers of bureaucracy at the state level will delay all facets of the upgrade and probably will push the opening date even further out past the projected 2011-12 opening. 7S may even bail out completely. Just watch. There was a state funded review performed by the Jack Johnson company on what needed to be done at Laurel to make it a viable ski operation. My hunch is that the state will totally throw that out the window and start from scratch.

I agree with you on this point. The $6 million should be given to 7S (or Buncher) and let them perform the upgrades with only minimal state oversight. Just watch what $6 million buys you in terms of upgrades with the state controlling the operation versus what $6 million would get ya with a private outfit performing the upgrades.

Based on this pace set by the state, you can see why Buncher finally threw up their arms and said "See Ya!". Probably the only string keeping 7S from doing the same is their 7 figure investment in the ski area and the lots in the adjacent Laurel Mountain Village.

I know I shouldn't be complaining because the state did come through with the $$$$, but I'm predicting nothing but chaos at Laurel and a half-a$$ed upgrade, if any at all.
SnowGal
November 11, 2009
Member since 11/11/2009 🔗
1 posts
So I heard about this site from a friend who drops in from time to time. Since I live pretty close to Laurel, I was dying to see what was up here.

While I agree with everyone's frustration, I have to pose a point here... Many people think this should just be done already, Laurel should be open and shame on Seven Springs for not opening the door this season.

I disagree. Too many times too many people have jumped the gun and look what happens, Laurel collapses. There is SO much work to be done there and a careful new look at all of that work is necessary. The water situation; the sewage issues; electrical issues; possible upgrades to the chairlifts, which we all know are rusting and degrading; and just sprucing up the lodge. Vandals have taken their toll on the lodge and it's in poor shape.

And it's not all on Seven Springs' shoulders - the DCNR is a big player in this, as is the new designer. It's state property, not like the property that belongs to Seven Springs. Then throw in the Mellon/Rolling Rock situation and it's the biggest cluster mess ever.

To simplfy, Laurel deserves a good hard look and attention to detail. Laurel is not a "turn-key" operation for God's sake! It's not like renting your second cousin's beach house on the Outer Banks!

Do you nay-sayers want a quick fix that will crumble in little to no time or a carefully planned, quality reopening?

I, personally, am rooting for Seven Springs. And anyone who gives a flyign rat's patootie about Laurel Mountain should too. If you aren't, then shame on you, you really don't love Laurel enough to care.

Now onto the $6M that the DCNR got from the Governor. I don't think that money should be handled by anyone other than the state. It is, afterall, our tax dollars. Don't you think you'd rather have the government control that, be responsible for that? Giving it to Seven Springs wuld only come under speculation as "pork barrel spending," another hurdle to overcome in the Laurel re-opening.

So, to wrap up, I love Laurel Mountain and yes, I pine for the day it re-opens. But I have patience and want a quality product.
snowsmith - DCSki Supporter
November 11, 2009
Member since 03/15/2004 🔗
1,367 posts
Hockeydave - I think the reason 7S has LM is that they go it through the back door. They bought the ski assets from the bank. The State was then forced to deal with 7S.
How many ski areas operate around here without $6 million in state funding? How about all of them EXCEPT LM.
The $6 million is a gift from the taxpayers of PA to 7S. I think what PA should have done a long time ago is what WV does with all of its State Park resorts, like Canaan Valley...they put the resort operation lease out for bid. They then get a long term leasee who provides the best value for the people of WV. The PA Turnpike is doing this with the rest areas. Notice they have been rebuilt and very quickly I might add.
So I somewhat agree it is the State's fault. But 7S has the Somerset Trust card in their hand since the bank was glad to get the bad debt off their books. 7S owns the village. So we are stuck with them now. Hopefully, the results will be positive ...somewhere 2 or 3 years from now.
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
November 11, 2009
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,859 posts
Welcome SnowGal. it is always nice to have another Laurel lover on the board. I'm with you on this primarily because nothing we do or say will change the fact that the state controls the spending. What I hope we can do is press for proper redesign and timely outlays. What we all need to do once Laurel is running is ski there and take all your snow sport loving friends there as often as you can.
Leo
November 11, 2009
Member since 11/15/2005 🔗
279 posts
I don't think the same IP address should be able to register new user names all the time.

Sorry for the cryptic post. And sorry for the thread hijack. Carry on. I want to ski Lower Wildcat as much as the next person.
lmmlaw
November 11, 2009
Member since 03/3/2008 🔗
18 posts
How apropos - from today's PG:

Seven Springs to operate Laurel Mountain Ski Area

http://www.postgazette.com/pg/09315/1012646-455.stm
skibum
November 11, 2009
Member since 12/3/2007 🔗
79 posts
snowgal has said it best "So, to wrap up, I love Laurel Mountain and yes, I pine for the day it re-opens. But I have patience and want a quality product " . we have come a long way. go back and look at the postings from the years 07, 08, 09,we can Wait one more year. we waited 11 years last time . And we will be watching to make sure we (tax payers of pa)get our money worth. I to look forward to going home. back to lower wild cat.watching the sun sets.as it casting long shadows done broadway and the best of all meeting good Friends in the wild cat bar. there is no place like home. skibum
snowsmith - DCSki Supporter
November 11, 2009
Member since 03/15/2004 🔗
1,367 posts
Good news finally! A lease! They say they will break gound in the spring. That gives them 9 months for construction. The Empire State Building was built in a year. Maybe we'll be skiing Wildcat next year and looking at that gorgeous view.

If the State gave you $6.5 million and you were going to operate LM what would you do with that money? New terrain? Automated Snow Making? Express lift? A new spa?

Here is what Snowsmith Inc. would do...add new slopes and new snow making and if there's money left over add a lift.

Hopefully 7S will be kicking in some of there own money to fix up the existing infrastructure.
ovrkild
November 11, 2009
Member since 11/6/2008 🔗
9 posts
lodging is the first thing i would do. cut a trail
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
November 11, 2009
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,859 posts
Things are looking up. I hope the DCNR gets on the ball and targets next season for opening.

I'd like to see 100% snowmaking including the double chair lift line. A new trail or a more challenging lower extension of Dream and some regrading Of Innsbruck so it can be a true beginner trail top to bottom. New high speed quad to replace the double would be nice but a triple fixed grip would be OK too. Maybe enclose the courtyard of the lodge for more space and redesigned food delivery, multiple stations instead of one line for all. Lift tickets that are affordable for the masses would be great.

Sorry ovrkild, no lodging allowed slopeside due to an agreement between the DCNR and Mellon Foundation.
hockeydave
November 11, 2009
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
You have a prime example of what a private business can do without the constraints of government or bureaucracy, snowsmith, at your home slopes. Look at what Buncher did to HV (a ski area and a golf course) in less than one year with way more infrastructure to upgrade. So much for needing time to examine "how to do it right". They did it right and continue to build on it.

Again, give the $$$ directly to 7S, with some state oversight, and I guarantee that they will get way more right with way more improvements instead of leaving the bureaucrats at the state in charge of dolling out money to contractors who have no ski area development experience.

Leo, you weren't cryptic, just very perceptive. Could it be that LValleyGirl really is... nah, there I go again being conspiratorial. See you on Lower Wildcat in December, 2016, I hope.
LMskier
November 11, 2009
Member since 10/21/2009 🔗
5 posts
This is great news for anyone who loves Laurel. I hope 7 Springs can make this work. Since the place has been sitting for so long without anything going on major work needs to be done before it can open. Some improvments to look for are, 100% snowmaking, adding new trails(maybe the goat), and new lifts. They need to add lodging but the only place that could really happen is at Laurel Village, so dont look for that for a while. Hope to see everyone on Lower during 2011-2012!
hockeydave
November 12, 2009
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
Would it be too much to ask of the DCNR to post the lease on their website, since, after all, it is the people of Pennsylvania's state park, not the DCNR's? I'd be curious what penalties 7S would incur if they broke the lease, if any. Also, when does the lease start? Is it effective immediately or when the ski area reopens? Wouldn't it be nice if they placed online the master plan for the upgrade to Laurel (what improvements, who's doing what, what 7S is contributing both fiscally and oversight, etc.)? All I'm asking of the DCNR is just a little transparency for the taxpayers of PA since it is OUR state park and OUR taxes going towards these upgrades. That way both proponents and critics could chime in with their thoughts and concerns.
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
November 12, 2009
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,859 posts
I'll go with that Dave. I'd like to see more detail. I'd like an explanation of the timeline being talked about. As you pointed out, privately owned resorts have been able to get expansions up and running in less time. Large western and New England resorts have been able to complete expansions that would dwarf Laurel in far less time. It just seems to me that the longer this is drawn out, the less bang for the buck.

I've always stated that time and care should be taken but that was always in the context of starting in mid construction season. Right now the money is in place, a lease is signed. There is about a 3 to 4 months before heavy construction can begin and an entire construction season to get the job done. Perhaps there are valid reason why this project should be stretched over 2 years. I would like to know the rational.
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
November 12, 2009
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,859 posts
Here's an article from today's Pittsburgh Tribune Review:


Laurel Mountain State Park Ski Area to Stay Closed

This from the Somerset Daily American:

Laurel Mountain Closed for 2009/2010

This from the Johnstown Tribune Democrat:

Seven Springs Signs Lease to Operate Laurel Mountain
The Colonel - DCSki Supporter
November 12, 2009
Member since 03/5/2004 🔗
3,107 posts
From the Pittsburgh Tribune Review:
"Closed since 2005, Laurel Mountain's ski area remains under consideration by Gov. Ed Rendell to receive funds for renovation and improvements from the state's capital improvement fund.
A proposed $5 million share is targeted to improve infrastructure at the facility, and $1.5 million would pay for renovations to skiing facilities.
No timetable has been set for reopening the Laurel Mountain ski area, Weltz said.
Necessary upgrades include providing for adequate water storage and snowmaking operations, said Doug Finger, manager of Linn Run/Laurel Mountain State Park.
"What needs to be done and in what order will rely solely on the state and Seven Springs," Finger said."
---------------------------------------------------------------
If the quotes in this article are completely true, then even the funding still seems a bit iffy. Anybody have the true story?
The Colonel smile
hockeydave
November 12, 2009
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
I would guess there would be no way 7S would have signed this lease if that money wasn't signed, sealed & delivered to the DCNR. Anyways, without knowing the details of the lease, I would guess that 7S is not obligated to do or pay anything without the state performing "X" amount of renovations to Laurel. We'll see how long it takes for the actual upgrade work to commence. If it happens before the end of 2010, I will be shocked pleasantly surprised.
rjsherrin
November 13, 2009
Member since 09/28/2005 🔗
145 posts
In July the Governors office sent me information that the Governor had signed to release the money. I was told that they were set to start work on it early in 2010. I hope they were truthful. They said it was all signed.
Within the last couple of weeks I spoke with Jenner Twp. as to the $1,000,000. grant to connect the water sewer to Jenner Twp. and was told nothing has been finalized and the money isn't there yet. If it does work, the houses with water/sewer connections will be the first to connect. After this is working, the lots with water/sewer already in place may get to build and connect.
As far as the lots with no lines in front of them, it may be a long time before anything can be built.
snowsmith - DCSki Supporter
November 13, 2009
Member since 03/15/2004 🔗
1,367 posts
The Tribune article mention two design consultants, Moshier Studio, and engineers from H.F. Lenz Co., of Johnstown. I checked the web site of both of these firms and neither has any ski area design experience. H.F. Lenz does have civil and MEP engineering and had some condo buildings at Snowshoe on their project site.
I would think they need a consultant with specific engineering experience in lift design and snow making design. I would assume that we're going to get HKD snow making equipment? Since Herman Dupre was the inventor of this type of snow making equipment.
As typical with newpaper reporting, perhaps we are not getting all of the story.
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
November 14, 2009
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,859 posts
I heard that the HKD snow making system, although one of the most efficient in the industry, was not suited to Laurel's trails. Talking to previous resort personnel, they say that putting snow where it was needed was difficult because often wind would not cooperate and newly made snow would end up in the trees or in the parking lot. They say that Seven Springs wide slopes, cut to mimic western skiing, is much more suited to the HKDs and their grooming fleet can move the snow where needed.

What confuses me about the Tribune-Review article is the quote attributed to Dave Barrett, Chief of State Park Operations and Maintenance:

"At this point there is no concrete plan. That's why (Seven Springs) has hired a consultant - to develop a plan."

This give me the impression that Seven Springs hired Moshier Studios and H.F. Lenz Co. Can this be right? If this is true then Seven Springs personnel will actually design the ski area and Moshier and Lenz will execute the design.
skibum
November 14, 2009
Member since 12/3/2007 🔗
79 posts
we shouldn't read to much in to the news stuff they don't get much wright anyway. the springs will have to move forward as long as hidden valley keep the pressure on. as to what will we see at laurel the top of the mountain will become a beginner area. the springs has a very limited beginner area . snow making will go by how much water they can get you can have all the snow guns you want no water no snow. the double chair will go to be replace by the old triple chair from gunner. bigger Lodge with more food options.(more money in food and bozo then lift tickets)
how far the springs will go ?that will be wait and see. we are good at that skibum
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
November 14, 2009
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,859 posts
The state still owns the double. I doubt they'll buy an old used chair from Seven Springs to replace an old double. I'm guessing a quad will be installed and reconfigured with different load and unload points.
skibum
November 14, 2009
Member since 12/3/2007 🔗
79 posts
to the best of my knowledge the state doesn't own the double. it was replace in 99 when it reopen. if any one has info on this plase post skibum
imp
November 14, 2009
Member since 01/11/2007 🔗
238 posts
Laurel Mountain ski company the company that the springs got the assets of did not own the double chair. Ownership of the double may have transfrered to 7 as part of the lease deal but
it will be replaced in any event. The money for a new chair is part of the state investment and the amount alloted was for a new quad. running it from the warming hut on the bottom to above the existing terminal would allow for better use of the Dream side.

imp
jb714
November 14, 2009
Member since 03/4/2003 🔗
294 posts
Quote:
to the best of my knowledge the state doesn't own the double. it was replace in 99 when it reopen. if any one has info on this plase post skibum


The double was still there as recently as March of 2003. In the picture that Scott has on the DCSKI Laurel Mountain page (a picture that I took in March 2003 and provided to Scott), you can see the double heading up past Lower Wildcat.

I'd love to have one of the chairs from that double to use in my cabin - doubles are getting harder and harder to find. frown
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
November 14, 2009
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,859 posts
This later story on Laurel dated November 12 from the Pittsburgh Post Gazette: Work Needed seems to confirm that the State still owns the double and also seems to confirm what imp said about replacement. The Jack Johnson report I received from the DCNR recommends the double be replaced with a quad. Here's the quote from Chris Novak, DCNR spokeswoman.

"We'll only be spending money on the stuff we own. That includes one lift -- they own two, plus the lodge," Ms. Novak said. "The lifts are ancient and need to be brought up to code, and anything they want to do with the lodge is up to them, as is snow removal on the roads."
jimboc
November 24, 2009
Member since 03/30/2004 🔗
260 posts
Is this old news ?? just came across this.....

http://www.onthesnow.com/news/11/a/9222/...LNK=Newsletter#

Seven Springs Signs Ten-Year Lease To Operate Laurel Mountain
Nov 18, 2009 Mary Jo Tarallo, Associate Editor Comments (0)


Seven Springs hopes to fill the chairs at Laurel Mountain next winter.

Seven Springs Resort, in Somerset County, Penn., has signed a ten-year lease to operate Laurel Mountain Ski Park, a state -owned area about 50 miles east of Pittsburgh. Laurel Mountain is about 25 miles from Seven Springs. The mountain will not be open for use this winter.

Seven Springs signed the lease with the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) and also is working with the State of Pennsylvania to revive skiing at the defunct ski facility. About a year ago it signed an agreement with Somerset Trust to secure the assets at Laurel.

"Currently, we are working closely with the DCNR and their design consultant to review the needs, such as infrastructure, to open Laurel," said Anna Weltz, communications manager for Seven Springs. "Our intention is to put a strong heart beat back into Laurel," said Weitz. "We look forward to the reopening of Laurel as a valuable regional ski destination and the jobs it will create and expect it to be a successful venture for Seven Springs, Jenners Township, and the adjoining counties."

Seven Springs has not indicated when the mountain will be open for operations but that it continues discussions with all parties.

"We are thankful for the support we have received from local communities, DCNR and skiers and boarders who are anxious to see the revival of Laurel," added Weltz.

The state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources has committed $6.5 million to improvements the state and Seven Springs agree are needed.
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
November 24, 2009
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,859 posts
Originally Posted By: lmmlaw
How apropos - from today's PG:

Seven Springs to operate Laurel Mountain Ski Area

http://www.postgazette.com/pg/09315/1012646-455.stm


lmmlaw 11/11 post links the first mainstream media reports followed by more post in the following week with links to major Western PA newspapers. If all goes according to plan we will be skiing Laurel 2011/2012.
hockeydave
November 24, 2009
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
Keep pressing the state to get the infrastructure in there ASAP. All it takes is one politician with an axe to grind or a change of administration (2010) and if the infrastructure update is not well under way by this time next year, there is always a chance that Lucy might lift the football up again just as Charlie Brown tries to kick it.

Also, a 2 person contingent from 7S attended the LMV homeowners meeting on Sunday at the ski lodge. They said all of the right things and their statements were in agreement with the facts as I knew them up to that point. I am now convinced they do, in fact, want to open up the ski area...
skibum
November 26, 2009
Member since 12/3/2007 🔗
79 posts

from the to day 11/26 The Tribune-Democrat

LIGONIER - Seven Springs Mountain Resort will pay $10,000 annually to operate the ski area at Laurel Mountain, state documents show.

Under a lease with the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Seven Springs also will hand over additional cash based on annual skier visits - as much as $15,000 if Laurel Mountain attracts more than 21,000 skiers.

The cash amount, though, is relatively low when compared to the potential economic benefits for the area when Seven Springs reopens the dormant Westmoreland
skibum
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
December 2, 2009
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,859 posts
I've started a new thread about Laurel Mountain's Midway Cabin the original lodge. It is a little long. I outline a little of the history and write about significant individuals who are connected with Laurel Mountain. I am beginning to look into having Midway Cabin restored and put back into use when Laurel Mountain opens in the near future Please take the time to read the story and help me with your ideas, stories and advice. Here is the link:

Midway Cabin-Help Preserve History
hockeydave
January 13, 2010
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
So if anyone thinks/hopes/wishes that Laurel will be open for the 2010-11 ski season, think again. Just read this clustermuck...

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10013/1027754-56.stm

Government efficiency at its very finest.
GGNagy
January 13, 2010
Member since 01/5/2006 🔗
451 posts
so stupid and so classic PA Govt, one can only laugh.
imp
January 14, 2010
Member since 01/11/2007 🔗
238 posts
THE same engineering group that allowed this to happen at Boyce seems to be involved at Laurel???? This may delay theopening of the Laurel MOuntain Secnic tubing area..

By the way lower was quite skiable (sorry LHC) just couldn' not go

imp
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
January 14, 2010
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,859 posts
Damn you imp!!!!
hockeydave
January 15, 2010
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
Leo
January 15, 2010
Member since 11/15/2005 🔗
279 posts
I think we better create some new, appointed, highly paid positions in both the state and the county to ensure that the paperwork to apply for the permit to have permission to install safety devices on lifts gets done correctly from now on.

Problem solved.

I wonder if a privately owned resort could leave their main chairlift idle for the entire business season.
skibum
January 17, 2010
Member since 12/3/2007 🔗
79 posts
there is a governor's race going on. who is running alg.county?and is he running in the governors race?it is all politics .how can this man run a state if can run a county park"" ski bum
hockeydave
January 22, 2010
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
Hopefully the final chapter in the Boyce Park saga. Couldn't agree with Leo more... this would never happen if the ski area were private.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10018/1029060-287.stm
hockeydave
January 31, 2010
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
I'm going to make a post once a month on this thread giving progress updates at Laurel Mountain. It has been over 1 year since 7S purchased the assets from Somerset Trust and over 2 months since a lease was signed with the PA DCNR. These updates will be based on what I can see taking place at the Laurel Mountain ski area. I welcome anybody else to chime in on any progress they see or hear of. So, without further delay, here is the 1st progress report:

January 2010 Update
[Space Intentionally Left Blank]
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
June 6, 2010
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,859 posts
Somerset's Daily American reporter Michelle Ganassi reports that Laurel will not open for the coming season. Article here:

Laurel Mountain to remained closed for the 2010/2011 season

This is further confirms what we have been hearing all along as I reported in the newer Laurel Mountain thread back on May 9, 2010 in this e-mail from Lori Nygard from the DCNR:

Thank you for your interest in the operation at Laurel Mountain. We are currently in the design process. After the Department of General Services approves the design, we will put the project out for bids. The commonwealth improvements will include additional water storage for snowmaking, improvements to the snow making infrastructure, a new or refurbished lift, slope grading work, electrical upgrades as necessary, and possibly a new tubing park (dependent on funds available). Construction may begin in the fall of this year, which would impact the upcoming ski season. With an improved lift in place, the ski area may be able to open for the 2011 season.

If you have any additional questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Lori Nygard, Chief
Program Services Section
Park Operations & Maintenance Division
DCNR - State Parks
717-783-3307

I think that it would be best if we keep all breaking news concerning Laurel to this thread due to the fact that many interested parties are notified when new posts are made here.
The Colonel - DCSki Supporter
June 6, 2010
Member since 03/5/2004 🔗
3,107 posts
LHC,
Hey, maybe you could get one of the portable ski lifts I found and referenced in another thread in the DCSki Discussion forum and at least have a private ski adventure at Laurel for a few hours...assuming you can get to the slopes. I am sure the authorities would not approve!!
The Colonel smile
snowsmith - DCSki Supporter
June 7, 2010
Member since 03/15/2004 🔗
1,367 posts
"The commonwealth can only do improvements on the land and infrastructure that we own," she said. "We do not own the all of the above-ground snow grooming equipment, the quad chair lift equipment or the ski lodge. Improvements to these things would need to be made by Seven Springs."

Quote from the Lori Nygard in the Dailey American Article

I guess 7Springs is sitting on there keister waiting for the state to spend tax payer money to get the resort up and running.
hockeydave
June 7, 2010
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
What really struck me by the article was the lack of commitment by both the state and 7S to open Laurel for 2011-12 season. Are you freakin' kidding me? I don't get a sense of urgency from either the state or 7S based on how the information was presented in this article.

7S reps have told me in person (at LMV property owners meetings) that they want Laurel opened ASAP because the land they bought in Laurel Mountain Village is practically worthless until the ski area reopens. In this rare instance, I will resist bashing 7S because until the state actually does something at the ski area (which they have promised to do), I wouldn't invest a penny either. How much of that money is being wasted currently on engineering studies and bureaucrats salaries charging time against that money?

If Laurel does ever reopen, I'm predicting that due to the inefficiency of the state, the only change that will occur is a new chairlift to replace the double. That's what $6.5 million will get you with the state in charge. Hope I'm wrong.

Also, who knows what might happen with what's left of the $6.5 million when a new governor is elected in November.

Sorry for all of the optimism ;-)
bawalker
June 7, 2010
Member since 12/1/2003 🔗
1,547 posts
Welcome to the world of relying on a governmental body for accomplishing work only the private/commercial world can accomplish. Unless the PA government somehow sells, releases, or gives over the land and assets they own to 7S, 7S will be bogged down by the PA government. I'm sure 7S management knows this and knowing that the PA government won't move at the same rate, why would 7S invest time and money only to get the same result if they do 'sit on their hands with both hands tied'?
snowsmith - DCSki Supporter
June 8, 2010
Member since 03/15/2004 🔗
1,367 posts
My question is, why doesn't the State lease the whole resort to 7Springs, similar to Canaan. Why should the state be building and operating a ski area? If there ever was an area that private industry should take care of this is it.
Peope are constantly trashing government but government does many things well...they build and maintain all of our roads, schools, libraries, parks, etc. but running a ski area is not their forte.
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
June 8, 2010
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,859 posts
If we waited solely for private interest to open Laurel we wouldn't be here complaining about the glacial pace of government. I'm as frustrated as all of you about the lack of commitment on the part of the DCNR but I really believe if it were left up to them a land swap with the Mellons would be more likely than a reopening of a classic ski area. We must remember that the skiing public brought pressure on local politician who in turn lobbied the governor and the state legislature to get this far.

I also believe that a part of Seven Springs motivation was to stem competition from Hidden Valley. They have accomplished that but they have also given themselves an opportunity to further consolidate their position in the local ski market and create another opportunity for real estate development. In this economic climate I can understand why Seven Springs is not frothing at the bit to develop Laurel.

We need to keep pressure on the DCNR to follow through with the development of Laurel. This is a political battle, that is how this opportunity came to be, that is how it will be resolved. If we fail to convince both the DCNR and Seven Springs that this is a viable project than the funding will disappear. The fact that when I made the post to link to the Daily American article on 6/8 there were 503,740 views on this thread and now there are 505,476 and this is early June should tell us something about the level of interest in this project
rjsherrin
June 8, 2010
Member since 09/28/2005 🔗
145 posts
It's a shame the co-op never worked. If it worked and was given 6 million to get going, it would have been great. The people interested love that Ski Resort. My opinion, and it's only my opinion, is it will never open again.
For 7 Springs, it will draw some of their crowd. They need to operate another resort and take on the expenses to run it when it's a lot of the skiers who were going to 7 Springs already. For them it's easy to spend a million to buy it and keep Hidden Valley out. They probably make it up in 2 years. Hidden Valley needs the tougher slopes. If they were granted 6 million, it would probably be open.
For the Governor it looks good granting the money. He probably knew it would never be used.
For Nutting, it looks good buying the Assets. They probably knew they would get a 5 to 10 year option to keep Buncher out and let it sink deeper in the lost resort records.
My dream is to ski the Lower Wildcat again.
GGNagy
June 9, 2010
Member since 01/5/2006 🔗
451 posts
I was under the impression that the 6 million was a requested by 7 Springs as a condition of them doing improvements and reopening the ski area. The state improvements were not part of the Buncher proposal. It must be buried in the almost 60 pages of this thread. Am I misremembering?

LHC, This thread might be suffering from reader fatigue. I think alot of people have resigned themselves to the fact that LM is hosed.
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
June 9, 2010
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,859 posts
GG, views on this topic: 6/6 = 503,740 on 6/8 = 505,476 as I write this = 508,441. That means that there have been almost 5,000 hits on this thread in 3 days, in June. Interested people still tune in here. You can bet the DCNR and Seven Springs takes notice and follows what is posted here.

As for the $6.5 M, Seven Springs had nothing to do with that. The money is from the State's capital improvement budget and was placed on the list through the efforts of local politician from all levels of government guided by Buncher political operatives. The money was released by the governor after a group of Laurel supporters met with him at a road ribbon cutting ceremony in Somerset County. That was on 8/8/08


Buncher would not buy the assets from the bank until a lease agreement was signed and capital funds released and entered into an agreement with the bank with those stipulations. There were several extensions of this agreement. Within a day or 2 of the expiration of the agreement and the release of the state funds, Seven Springs bought the assets and began negotiations with the DCNR for a lease. A lease agreement was reached with Seven Springs in November, 2009.

The funds have been released, a design team has been hired and bids are to be taken this year with possible construction to begin this fall. Laurel is not yet hosed but if we give up the fight the DCNR could pocket or return the funds and Seven Springs will have Laurel tied up for the next ten years.
GGNagy
June 10, 2010
Member since 01/5/2006 🔗
451 posts
LHC, sorry, I read your statement about the views as a comment that interest was tapering off, not staying high.

I also obviously remembered the events in the wrong order. Frazzled brain syndrome.
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
June 10, 2010
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,859 posts
I understand the brain frazzle. There have been more plot twist than an episode of Lost and the question remains; Is Laurel alive or dead? View count now at 509,255 says alive to me. Maybe Ben or Locke can go down to the bowels of the mountain and turn that big wheel to move Laurel next to Seven Springs. confused grin
hockeydave
July 21, 2010
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
Nothing really new here, but an interesting read.

http://www.dailyamerican.com/articles/2010/07/19/news/local/news122.txt
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
August 5, 2010
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,859 posts
I noticed that hockeydave is online so I thought I'd throw some red meat out to him.

I obtained a copy of the lease agreement between the DCNR and Seven Springs. Except the agreement is between the DCNR and The Springs of Laurel Mountain, LLC.

I haven't had time to give the document proper study (or any study for that matter) so I have no details or comments to report but I thought I'd report that one fact.

How about it Dave, how do you feel about calling Laurel The Springs at Laurel Mountain again?
hockeydave
August 6, 2010
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
Hi Rob. Let's just hope The Springs at Laurel Mountain lasts longer than the 1st go-around. Given the current pace of attempting to get Laurel reopened, and with an upcoming change in Harrisburg in November, and with Bob Nutting's penchant to spend his own money, one wonders if the TS@LM will ever happen.

Quite frankly, the name sux. Just call it what it is: Laurel Mountain.

The only encouraging news I've heard is in my previous post; that new water and sewer is definitely going to happen in the Village.
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
August 6, 2010
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,859 posts
Was up for a hike the other day. There has been some limited trail mowing. I entered via Locust Camp. A narrow swath has been cut down Broadway to the bottom of the quad. No signs of earth moving for snow making ponds or trails. No evidence of electric power upgrades. No word that bids were let.

Nobody wants to move in a recession.

tic, tock, tic, tock.
snowsmith - DCSki Supporter
August 6, 2010
Member since 03/15/2004 🔗
1,367 posts
I would just like to call it "Open".
Once the design documents are completed and all permits have been obtained, the construction will be advertised for bids. From advertisement to award of the contract,it usually takes at least 90 days. So if the project was advertised for bids tomorrow, it wouldn't be until late October or early November before they could start construction. Given the early Winters on Laurel Mt. construction really cannot begin until later Spring, unless we had a very mild early Winter. So, if we are lucky, we'll be skiing 2011/2012. Nothing is preventing 7Springs from constructing any improvements that they are planning. If you have the money, a recession is the best time to obtain bid since the contractors are hungry for work.
hockeydave
September 20, 2010
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
I spoke this weekend to a man who is well connected with state funded projects and also with politicians. He said that if Tom Corbett(R) is elected as governor, many pet projects will be axed, and the $6.5 million Laurel Mountain Ski area project is a prime candidate.

I just want to again thank all of the bureaucrats in the DCNR who dragged their feet 2 years ago and did not award Buncher the lease because "they had no ski industry experience" or because they had never heard of Buncher. Way to go guys and gals. Laurel probably would have been open by now. Now, there is a strong likelihood that it won't be opened any time in the foreseeable future.

Also, besides using the Laurel Mountain lodge as a Stor-All, 7S has not performed one cosmetic upgrade to the lodge. Just a simple power wash and stain would be nice. It is badly needed. And they can't use the excuse the state won't let them... they own the lodge.
rjsherrin
September 20, 2010
Member since 09/28/2005 🔗
145 posts
Do you know if the state gave 7 Springs a 10 year lease?
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
September 20, 2010
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,859 posts
rj, Yes, ten year lease.
rjsherrin
September 20, 2010
Member since 09/28/2005 🔗
145 posts
Sounds like Nutting has it sealed up for a long time. It's a shame his Pirates baseball team isn't doing to good. I wonder if the 7 Springs investment is paying for itself. I wish he would take the grant and get it going before the grant is gone. I agree with Hockeydave and wish Buncher would have got the lease. I am again buying a Hidden Valley season pass.
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
September 21, 2010
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,859 posts
There is no grant. The money is solely under DCNR control and will be spent by the department for infrastructure. 7S will not see a penny spent on the assets they own. Too bad that the DCNR didn't leverage an equal investment from 7S as part of the lease agreement. I heard that Buncher was willing to put up $10 million.
Edgar3
September 21, 2010
Member since 05/29/2007 🔗
149 posts
Not to defend 7S in the least bit, but my hunch is that we would be in the same place even with Buncher considering the direction that the economy has taken. Although they have done great things to bring back HV, all the big plans such as outback expansion, new lodge/condos, and the huge Paradise Springs development all seem to be on hold. Just can't imagine that being the case that somehow they would have moved ahead and invested $10M over at Laurel.
Blue Don 1982 - DCSki Supporter
September 21, 2010
Member since 01/13/2008 🔗
1,474 posts
I stumbled onto this great thread and appreciate all the info.

My son and I skied HV a lot last season. Not experts by any means but enjoy getting out for some quality winter activities.

HV is 90 mins from my house and the only time we stop is at the 2 toll booths.

I'll try follow along - sure would like to see another option close by like Laurel Mtn.

Thanks again for all the info
jimmy
September 21, 2010
Member since 03/5/2004 🔗
2,650 posts
When "Ogden" Village gets public sewer and they can start to sell lots or other "slopeside" real estate developments, Laurel Mountain will open.
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
September 21, 2010
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,859 posts
Edgar3, my point was that it seemed that Buncher was ready commit a specified amount and the lease could have leveraged a like commitment. For all I know there has been a private commitment made and 7S will step up once the water and sewage issues at the Village are resolved as jimmy suggests.

Hell, for all I know the DCNR really does not like the Laurel project, resents Rendell's involvement and made a sham deal with 7S to kill Laurel once and for all.

hockeydaves' point seems very plausible. Corbett is running for Governor on a 'no tax/cut spending campaign'. To lop off a Rendell mandated "taxpayer handout" would please a lot of his supporters and be an easy campaign pledge to keep. Politics is down right toxic in the country and PA is certainly no exception. I'd always thought that Laurel was chosen because of the economic merits and a united effort by local officials from both political parties to move this project. In fact, it was a Republican state senator that sponsored the appropriations bill that provides for Laurel's as of yet unspent funding.





rjsherrin
September 22, 2010
Member since 09/28/2005 🔗
145 posts
[quote][/quote]"Hell, for all I know the DCNR really does not like the Laurel project, resents Rendell's involvement and made a sham deal with 7S to kill Laurel once and for all."

I seem to have the same feeling. The DCNR seems to be the biggest hurdle for anyone. They seem to love it like the Mellons who get the runoff when it melts.

A 10 year lease locks it down for a long time.
Some of the lots I own are right past where the water and sewer lines end and I was told it would be years before they would ever start running additional lines.
hockeydave
October 5, 2010
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
Both of these articles have nothing to do with 7S or LM, but I think both articles provide a valuable insight to the mindset and the lack of business acumen that Mr Nutting possesses.

http://communityvoices.sites.post-gazette.com/index.php/sports/bob-smiziks-blog

http://www.postgazette.com/pg/10278/1092680-87.stm
Edgar3
October 5, 2010
Member since 05/29/2007 🔗
149 posts
Have to hand it to the Dupre's. If there was a good time to sell 7S, it was when they sold to Mr Nutting. Top of the real estate market and shoe in for a resorts slots license and all. It is a different situation today.
Leo
October 6, 2010
Member since 11/15/2005 🔗
279 posts
I might be wrong on my facts here, but I am pretty sure the Dupre family battled for years in court before a sale became possible.

So, like so many other things, their timing was probably more dumb luck than actually anticipating the top of the economy/real estate market and only looks brilliant in retrospect. Not to say that they didn't have a good business acumen, etc., but I think the sale would have happened a lot sooner if the family would have all agreed that they wanted to sell the place.
jimboc
October 7, 2010
Member since 03/30/2004 🔗
260 posts
thought this was as good a place as any for this article.....

http://www.onthesnow.com/news/a/13163/lo..._LNK=Newsletter
GGNagy
October 7, 2010
Member since 01/5/2006 🔗
451 posts
The article about Tamarack is sort of in the same vein as what is going on with Big Tupper in NY. However, I don't expect any such result in this manner for LM ever happening as long as Seven Springs is a player
HV home owner
November 2, 2010
Member since 11/1/2010 🔗
97 posts
hockeydave
November 5, 2010
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
Well, it's official...

http://tribune-democrat.com/local/x2073122121/No-skiing-this-winter-at-Laurel-Mountain

What really struck me was the admission that the project is 6 months behind schedule and 2 state agencies are involved. And yet nothing of substance has been done at the area. I can hear the un-lubricated gears of 2 state bureaucracies grinding against each other. And I would hazard a guess that Bob Nutting/7S is doing absolutely nothing to speed up the process.

Skiing @ Laurel for the 2011-12 season is a very far reach.
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
November 5, 2010
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,859 posts
I saw the article and this is the comment I posted on the Tribune Democrat's site:

This is disappointing news for this coming winter but if the project still has the green light it will be a welcome addition for the region's tourist industry. In the short term, construction jobs will be created. In the long term, employment base needed to operate the facility will be establish and the surrounding communities will benefit from the many spin off services established local business can provide snow sports enthusiast.

Laurel Mountain will be a good compliment to a growing outdoor recreation industry that can sustain long term employment in a clean, green industry. This is a great example of how a private/public partnership can work.
Blue Don 1982 - DCSki Supporter
November 6, 2010
Member since 01/13/2008 🔗
1,474 posts
WTAE news in Pittsburgh had a very brief update on the Friday night 6 PM news stating the same. 6 months behind schedule but shooting for 2011 - 2012.

Every time I hear the name Bob Nutting I become ill. He's 18 years behind schedule with the Pirates.
HV home owner
November 6, 2010
Member since 11/1/2010 🔗
97 posts
and 5 years behind schedule with 7S skiing. Does anybody Know what happend 2 7S future expansion? Bob Nutting is one of my least favorite people.
HV home owner
November 6, 2010
Member since 11/1/2010 🔗
97 posts
hockeydave
November 7, 2010
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
And from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

http://www.postgazette.com/pg/10311/1101001-37.stm

Mr Walsh predicts a 2012-13 opening at the earliest and this is by far the most telling comment from a 7S marketing director.

Quote:

Seven Springs, which signed a 10-year lease to operate Laurel Mountain, said it is working closely as an adviser with the two departments as the project proceeds. But there doesn't appear to be any hurry on anyone's part to re-open the area sooner than the 2012-2013 season.

"Our responsibility is to operate Laurel Mountain when it opens," said marketing director Alex Moser.


Again, all parties seem to be waiting for this project to wither on the vine and die. Or maybe the budgetary grim reaper, Tom Corbett, will give all parties the excuse they're looking for. Thanks Bob Nutting, you jacka$$, for effectively killing 2 regional assets (Laurel and the Pirates); one wonders how far 7S will slide downhill (and it is sliding, just ask anybody who skis or works there) under his "leadership".
Blue Don 1982 - DCSki Supporter
November 7, 2010
Member since 01/13/2008 🔗
1,474 posts
110% agree Hockey Dave

I do my best to stay away from 7S and PNC Park as long as Nutting is involved.
HV home owner
November 7, 2010
Member since 11/1/2010 🔗
97 posts
Also dont watch wtae they endorse the bull that Bob is doing with his buisenesses. I predict that 7s just like the pirates will only be surviving on amenities and events. Also I have seen no efort on his part to reopen LM. only the dcnr is making some effort. He only wants LM so buncher wont snatch it up and hurt buiseness @ 7s. Because if it hadnt been for the economic meltdown Buncher probably would have continued with the purchase of LM.

mad sick
comprex
November 8, 2010
Member since 04/11/2003 🔗
1,326 posts

How many of you have either tele or touring gear?

I'm wondering if it would be useful to get a few dozen of us up there and have some journo shoot pix for a local story with peeps actually skiing LM?
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
November 8, 2010
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,859 posts
You know I can do it so if anyone is serious, you gotta go on the spur of the moment, when conditions are right. Who needs some journo if by that you mean journalist? We can shoot and post it here.
HV home owner
November 8, 2010
Member since 11/1/2010 🔗
97 posts
thats actually a good idea. just so u Know u have 2 walk a half mile 2 a mile 2 get 2 the slopes since they closed the last part of the road.
comprex
November 8, 2010
Member since 04/11/2003 🔗
1,326 posts
Originally Posted By: Laurel Hill Crazie
We can shoot and post it here.


We can; would it not be useful to have a Pittsburgh print story tho?

And by 'a few dozen' I do indeed mean 24+ of us.

EDIT:
PATC