By KIM SMITH DEDAM
---- — SARANAC LAKE — A new lodge for Dewey Mountain is close to fully funded.
Two local families recently pledged $75,000 each, a total of $150,000 in matching funds.
That brings the gift total raised so far to $275,000 — about 80 percent of what is needed to make a new lodge a reality.
In partnership with Saranac Lake Rotary Foundation, Dewey Mountain Friends is closing in on the $350,000 total cost of construction.
“We are nearing the finish line,” Dewey Mountain Friends Chairman Chris Morris said in a statement.
“These gifts — combined with the generosity of 550 households, businesses and foundations that have made donations over the past few years — give us real hope of breaking ground on the new base lodge this spring.”
The current base facilities will be condemned after this winter, according to the Town of Harrietstown website.
“The aging structures would be demolished and replaced with a garage and lodge that will allow larger events, expanded use and all-season activities,” Morris said.
OLYMPIANS LEARNED HERE
The recreation center, set amid 22 kilometers of ski, snowshoe, mountain biking and hiking trails, holds a special place for local Olympians.
Biathlon skiers Tim Burke and Annelies Cook and Nordic-combined gold medalist Billy Demong all learned to ski here. All three are representing Team USA in the Winter Olympic Games now in Sochi.
All ages have pitched in to help with the ongoing push to rebuild Dewey’s lodge.
“Donations so far range in size from $75,000 to $1.19, the latter contributed by 6-year-old skier and mountain-biker Mason Stoddard, who literally emptied his piggy bank,” Morris said of the project’s wide support base.
But the community has outgrown the site, with increased use of the trails nearly year-round by school and youth groups, ski racers and visitors.
The Dewey Mountain trails and the lodge, managed by Adirondack Lakes & Trails Outfitters, are owned by the Town of Harrietstown.
But capital improvements have looked to private resources in order to spare town budget increases.
“Harrietstown, which founded the recreation center in 1980, has provided steadfast operating support for 33 years, but its current budget cannot provide capital funds without exceeding the New York state tax cap law,” Morris said.
“Recent gifts allow the project to proceed without the added logistical and interest expenses of bonding through the Town of Harrietstown, which had proposed to advance funds this year.
“The town board has been actively involved in planning to ensure that the new building meets its standards for long-term durability and ease of maintenance.”
Harrietstown Supervisor Bob Bevilacqua and Councilor Ron Keough are dedicated supporters of Dewey Mountain.
“The vision and dreams of young athletes are personified in the Olympians who got their start skiing at Dewey,” the town officials said in a joint statement.
“The programs and everyday use and enjoyment by all ages year-round reflect the benefit of the return on investment at Dewey Mountain.”
Email Kim Smith Dedam:firstname.lastname@example.org
HOW TO HELP
An online fundraiser for Dewey Lodge has been launched via Adirondack Gives, a crowdfunding site for Adirondack region nonprofits administered by Adirondack Foundation. As of Friday, it had brought in $1,025 toward the $2,500 goal.
The website is: http://tinyurl.com/qzc2r8f. Donations can also be made through the Dewy Mountain website: http://tinyurl.com/om65dbr.
Dewey Mountain is open to residents and visitors alike. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday; 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Friday; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays; and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays.
Nordic skis and snowshoes are available for rental at Dewey's warming lodge.
A schedule of upcoming events and free rental nights is posted at deweymountain.com.