Saddleback Still Quiet Nearly Two Weeks After Sale
While new lifts are planned, a reopening date has not yet been announced.
Tuesday, July 11, 2017, NewEnglandSkiIndustry.com
Nearly two weeks after the sale of Saddleback Mountain Resort to Majella Group, the mountain remains quiet.
On June 28, 2017, Bill and Irene Berry announced they had reached an agreement to sell the shuttered Saddleback Mountain Resort to the Australian company. With the deal scheduled to close later this summer, it appears the Berry family is working to clear the deed. On July 10, on of the liens filed during the closure was discharged by Associated Design Partners.
While the new ownership hopes to install two new lifts for the 2017-18 season, it has not officially announced a reopening. The area last operated in 2015. Majella did not immediately respond to an inquiry about a reopening timeline.
As of the start of this week, all chairlifts remain standing. While the lower mountain chairlifts have turned at some point in the past year, it appears the Kennebago Quad has not budged. The Cupsuptic T-Bar remains non-functional, with the base terminal footings propped up on wood and all of the carriers removed.
Survey stakes have been placed along the proposed Rangeley and Cupsuptic replacement lift lines. A new Doppelmayr fixed grip quad is planned for the replacement of the aging Rangeley double, with a bottom terminal slightly further downhill than the present day location. A faster T-Bar is planned as a replacement for the Cupsuptic lift. The two lifts provide the only access to the upper mountain Kennebago Quad.
A placeholder website has been recently launched at saddlebackmaine.com, composed of the press release and Q&A documents.
The latest Saddleback saga started on July 20, 2015, when the Berry family announced they had two weeks to place an order for a replacement for the Rangeley double chairlift, or else it would close the ski area. The family was unable to obtain financing.
Heirs to a large insurance company, Bill and Irene Berry purchased the Rangeley ski area and thousands of acres surrounding it for a reported $8 million in 2003, following an announcement from prior owner Donald Breen that it would close. Two new quad chairlifts were installed in subsequent years in conjunction with a major base lodge expansion. The Oquossoc Cove Marina was added to the fold in 2009.
After obtaining is B.S. in civil engineering from Lehigh University in 1955, M.S.T. in biology-geology from Colby College in 1966, and Ph.D. in Geology from the University of Kansas in 1970, Archie "Bill" Berry Jr. joined the faculty of the University of Maine at Farmington. A longtime Saddleback skier, Berry purchased a condo near the ski area in the early 1990s and retired from UMF in 1996. Berry's son Mark worked at Sugarloaf and ran Titcomb Mountain ski area (to which Bill Berry made significant contributions).
In 1971, the U.S. Investment Corporation was founded, which would include Mount Vernon Fire Insurance Company and US Underwriters Insurance Company. On August 8, 2000, Berkshire Hathaway acquired the U.S. Investment Corporation for an estimated $160 million in stock, mainly transferred to the extended Berry family.
On July 28, 2003, Saddleback, Inc. and Saddleback Land & Timber Corp. were incorporated in the State of Maine. Bill Berry, his wife Irene Berry, and their seven children soon took ownership of the 8,000 acre Saddleback tract via their corporations.
Since 2005, Saddleback has entered into multi-million dollar financing agreements with UnitedKinfield Bank, Camden National Bank, Skowhegan Savings Bank (via Finance Authority of Maine), and Coastal Enterprises Inc.
The Berry family placed the ski area on the market in 2012.
In recent years, members of the Berry family have loaned money to both corporations.
In May 2014, the Berrys sold 1,750 acres of land to generate funds.
In December 2015, the Berrys announced a prospective sale had delayed the start of the season and therefore offered season passholders a credit or refund.
In January 2016, Hertz placed a lien on Saddleback for non payment. Associated Design Partners, Inc. followed suit in March 2016.
Various non-skiing functions have been held at the ski area in 2016.
A group named the Saddleback Mountain Foundation emerged in in 2016 and raised over $1 million toward the purchase of the ski area, but was unable to obtain signed sales contract with the owners. On June 28, 2017, the Berry family announced they had reached a sale agreement with the Majella Group.