It happens. Things get old, and don't work as well as they once did. The 40-year-old Worth Mountain double chairlift at the Middlebury College Snow Bowl no longer meets state licensing requirements.
That was the news at the end of last season from Middlebury President Ronald D. Leibowitz.
"After considering the options - repair the existing lift, replace it, or close the Snow Bowl - I recommended to the Board of Trustees that the best course is to replace the Worth Mountain lift. In making this decision, we weighed the recreational value of the Bowl and its economic importance to the region against purchasing a new lift when we are making significant budget cuts elsewhere at the College due to current economic conditions," Leibowitz said.
Replacing the lift will cost $1.7 million, which will come from the college annual $8 million renewal and replacement reserve used to maintain campus infrastructure.
"We will tap this reserve in order to begin work on the new lift immediately, but we plan to reimburse the fund through a special fundraising effort. Replacing the lift, therefore, will have no direct impact on our operating budget, since we set aside funds each year to cover these kinds of repairs," he said.
A fundraising effort begun last season had raised a significant portion of the project's cost, Leibowitz said. The college also plans to raise money through the sale of a limited number of lifetime passes.
The Middlebury College Snow Bowl has been operating since 1934, and sees more than 50,000 skier and rider visits each year.
The new lift will be a fixed-grip, triple-chair transport system engineered and manufactured by Doppelmayr CTEC, an international firm that has built nearly 14,000 ski lifts in 80 countries. The per-hour capacity of the new lift will be the same as the existing double-chair Poma lift. The new lift will follow the same pathway up the Allen trail as the existing Worth Mountain lift. It is expected to be ready for this season.