Powder Ridge Deal Falls Through

The Powder Ridge Ski area in Middlefield closed in 2007 after 47 years in business. (STEPHEN DUNN)

A deal between Middlefield and Alpine Ridge LLC to reopen the Powder Ridge ski resort will not happen, according to town officials.

Attorneys for Alpine Ridge sent a letter to town officials last week indicating they no longer wanted to purchase the ski resort.

First Selectman Jon Brayshaw said Wednesday the town doesn't know why Alpine canceled the deal.

"We were devastated," Brayshaw said. "We've worked very hard at it. The No. 1 reason we bought it was to prevent a large housing development being built on the property. The ski area was a high priority; we wanted to restore what was once there."

Attorney John Corona, who represented Alpine in the negotiations with Middlefield, said he could not comment on the reason for Alpine's decision to back out of the plan.

After receiving the letter from Alpine, the board of selectmen called a special meeting on Tuesday, and released a statement afterward that blamed the developer for delays in the closing process.

"On Oct. 20, 2011 Alpine Ridge, LLC informed the board of selectmen that it would not perform its agreement to buy Powder Ridge Ski Resort. Alpine Ridge's letter came as a great surprise to the board of selectmen," the statement said.

The board said Alpine Ridge failed to provide engineering plans for an intake facility and pump station necessary to pump water from Lake Beseck for snow-making machines, which prevented the town from getting an easement from the state.

"The board of selectmen is deeply disappointed with Alpine Ridge's unexpected decision," the statement said.

Brayshaw said Wednesday it was too soon to tell whether Alpine's involvement with Powder Ridge is over for good, but he said the town attorney has advised the board of selectmen that there is a potential for litigation in the case.

State Rep. Matt Lesser said Wednesday he was disappointed that the town and the developer could not finalize the deal, citing the benefits reopening Powder Ridge would have had for the community.

"It's been years that people have been dragging their feet and nothing has happened [to restore Powder Ridge]," Lesser said. "There's a lot of explaining that needs to be done. Every time the town has said they need something the state has been there."

The initial deal – overwhelmingly approved by residents at a town meeting in May -- stipulated that the town would sell the property to Alpine for $1 million, and the company would invest another $2 million into the property. The town had received a $25,000 deposit from Alpine Ridge, and another payment of $300,000 was to be made at the closing date, followed by $100,000 payments each year for seven years.

Earlier this year, Dennis Abplanalp, president of Alpine Ridge, said he expected the resort to employ more than 200 people when it reopened. He said the company's emphasis on quality snowmaking and customer service will "allow Powder Ridge to become the premier winter recreation center in Connecticut, with skiing, snowboarding and snowtubing."

Powder Ridge had been used as a ski resort for 47 years until it closed in 2007, and the town bought the 246-acre property for $2.55 million in 2008 after it went into foreclosure. The property spans parts of Middlefield, Meriden and Wallingford.