It appears the Mount Ascutney Ski Area will not open this season, and now there's concern about the ripple effect on the local economy.
To get the pulse of just about any community, the local general store is a good bet, and the mood inside the Brownsville General Store Thursday matched the dreary weather outside. "I just think it is very disappointing," said local resident, Jim Saudade.
Word has been quickly circulating throughout this community that the new owners of Mt. Ascutney do not plan to open this year. The mountain was foreclosed on this summer after previous owners, Steve and Susan Plausteiner, had piled up nearly 2 million in debt.
"Well it's a shame. Obviously it's a mainstay of the community. Kids love to ski there. My son is at the school here and we have, we had a program there where they ski six Friday afternoons and its a shame that the kids can't do that," said Jill Arthur, another local resident.
The lifts have not yet had their annual inspection by the state, another sign that they will not be running this year. "It's a community mountain. We would all ski together on Sundays and you would see your friends and neighbors and kids on Friday afternoons, so it is really a loss," Arthur said.
For those who had seasonal jobs at the resort, the news comes as a blow. "I think a lot of people in this area may not have derived their principle income from the mountain, but they supplement their income," Saudade said.
As businesses like the ski shop on site sit locked up with no inventory, there are also other economic concerns. "Real estate values went up dramatically over the last 15 years but now they are plummeting again and there are lots of properties on the market," Saudade said.
It is not just the people at the mountain who will be affected by the closure. Business owners in downtown Windsor are also fearful of what the lack of skiers will mean to the local economy. "We look forward to the snow and the ski business taking off because we always get a bump in our business," said Rice Yordy, a wine shop owner. "The reality is that these people who own the condos and everything are probably going to ski other mountains, and when they ski other mountains, they are going to shop other places."
Those who have spent years swooshing down the slopes here are hopeful it has not been there last. "It was a great place to ski and I certainly hope it opens again someday," Saudade said.