23 Aug 2014
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Details Emerge in Failed Deal, Possible New Plan to Open Powder Ridge

First selectman says he will meet with interested investors in coming weeks.

Details Emerge in Failed Deal, Possible New Plan to Open Powder Ridge

More details emerged Friday about a possible to develop Powder Ridge ski area, as well as what may have lead to the collapse this week of a deal between Middlefield and Alpine Ridge LLC, of Fairfeld, PA.

"Rumors of the demise of the Powder Ridge deal are greatly exaggerated (with apologies to Mark Twain)," First Selectman Jon Brayshaw said in a prepared statement Friday.

"I have been in contact with one of the associates of Alpine Ridge and it appears that there is a group interested in completing a purchase of Powder Ridge," the statement continues.

The announcement comes less than 72 hours after Brayshaw announced that the $1 million deal with Alpine to buy Powder Ridge by Dennis Abplanalp, the company's president.

"We didn't jump the gun," Brayshaw said during in interview at Town Hall, indicating that Abplanalp had failed to follow through on his end of the agreement.

"I'm unaware, but I can't remember very much that Dennis did during the 90 days [due diligence period]," Brayshaw added.

One issue in particular, the delay over the approval of a water diversion permit, led the town to delay the closing on the property .

The permit is necessary to draw water from Lake Beseck to use for snowmaking and is currently under review by the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP).

Brayshaw said Abplanalp had failed to send an engineer to Middlefield to submit details of the company's plans.

While Abplanalp's interest in Powder Ridge waned, some members remained interested in restoring the property, according to Brayshaw.

"What would have been more appropriate is for Dennis to talk to his group and then seamlessly continue the effort," Brayshaw said.

Abplanalp could not be reached for comment.

The "associate" mentioned in Friday's statement refers to  Rick Sabatino, who owns Apollo Consulting Inc., a Canadian company.

Sabatino previously worked as a consultant for Alpine during the company's negotiations to buy Powder Ridge and was present during the company's residents in May.

"I will be traveling to Middlefield within the next couple of weeks with one of the individuals interested in seeing the project go forward," Sabatino said in an email.

"[The investor] represents a group who are actively investigating turning Powder Ridge into a year-round destination. Their involvement would turn Powder Ridge into more than a ski hill," the email continues.

Brayshaw said he is working out the details to meet with Sabatino sometime in early November.

"What Rick wants to do is pickup where Dennis left off," he explained.

While Brayshaw remained optimistic that the two sides could reach a deal, he expressed disappointment over the public response to Alpine's withdrawl.

"It sickens me. It has nothing to do with any political affiliation, I win and you lose," he said. "Powder Ridge is not a poltical tootsie roll, it's the biggest thing Middlefield has ever had to tackle. It just happens to be on my watch," he said.

Joe Geruch, the town's finance director, said the status of a $500,000 grant by the Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) had not changed.

He said the money would still be used for structural improvements on the property if and when a deal is finalized.

Brayshaw said, if anything, the dealings involving Powder Ridge have taught him patience.

His advice to residents?

"Believe none of what you hear, and half of what you see."

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