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West Windsor Buys Land At Closed Mt. Ascutney Resort

James Lyall
Peter Tobey is shown riding on the mountain bike trails on Ascutney Mountain.

The town of West Windsor has purchased 468 acres of the former Ascutney Mountain Resort, thanks to local, state and national financial support. And the town is hoping the acquisition does much more than just open the land for recreation.

West Windsor Selectboard member Ted Siegler says the area around Ascutney Mountain was hit hard when the ski resort closed in 2010.

With little hope for an outsider to come in and purchase the land, Siegler says talks began locally to try to make a bid for the property.

"The ski area has always kind of defined the town of Brownsville," Siegler says.  "And so for the ski area to be closed and shuttered ... to have the lifts going away and nothing there, has been quite difficult for many of the residents of Brownsville."

Siegler says "this looked like the best hope of somehow rejuvenating the ski area."

The town kicked in $105,000 and received help from the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, the Open Space Institute Community Forest Fund and The Trust For Public Land, which lead the efforts to complete the $915,000 purchase.

The land abuts the West Windsor Town Forest, and with the purchase, creates an almost 1,600-acre preserve.

Credit Erin Kershaw / STAB
Mike Silverman, left, and James Lyall work to clean up and restore trails on Mount Ascutney.

There's already an extensive mountain bike trail system in the area, and Siegler says there are plans to open the trails on the former ski resort for back country skiing.

He says the town wants to organize ski and mountain bike events, and promote the region as a four-season outdoor recreation destination.

"For the ski area to be closed and shuttered, and to have the lifts going away and nothing there, has been quite difficult for many of the residents of Brownsville. And so this looked like the best hope of somehow rejuvenating the ski area." — Ted Siegler, West Windsor select board member

"We want to keep our local general store there,"  he says. "We want to make sure that our school has enough population to sustain itself as a school. We want to make sure that people moving into the to town with children, and that there are enough economic opportunities for them. And so all of that was really important for the townspeople."

The town of West Windsor approved the land deal at a special town meeting in Oct. 2014.

Siegler says the town will manage the forest, but he says there are plans for a new nonprofit, theMt. Ascutney Outdoors, to develop and maintain the trails.

Howard Weiss-Tisman is Vermont Public’s southern Vermont reporter, but sometimes the story takes him to other parts of the state.
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