WILMINGTON-- The Development Review Board took testimony on additions to the Haystack base lodge plans that bring to fruition the dreams of owner Jim Barnes. Construction of the 92,109-square-foot lodge is due to start in the next two weeks. The lodge should be ready by Dec. 15, 2013.
Formerly known as Haystack, the private mountain, located at 125 Gatehouse Trail Road, is now called the Haystack Club
Owners believe the lodge will help the mountain succeed as a private club, which will be an addition to the Hermitage Inn and Hermitage Golf Club.
The DRB is expected to render its decision within the next few weeks.
"We just feel like we have the whole package now," says Bob Rubin, vice president of the Haystack Club. "I think when you look at other ski lodges, they're not fully functional for a ski club. This particular building will be the center of our whole club that an ordinary ski lodge would not have."
If approved, the base lodge and amenities center will give club members the usual advantages of a base lodge, as well as opportunities to access spas, a fitness center, shopping, and a large main dining room. A ski-check will also be available. There will be 250 parking spaces available to club members, and all retail will be located inside the lodge.
Between 30 to 100 workers may be at the site during construction at any given time. This ranges from construction workers to electrical and plumbing outfits.
After construction is over, 50 to 75 people will be working inside the lodge. The list includes everybody from wait staff to cooks to membership advisers, maintenance and cleaning people. Other areas of employment will be in the daycare, fitness room, spa, and retail.
Rubin said snowmaking is now a necessary component to being successful as a mountain, so fan guns have been added to the slopes. The fact that the mountain is a private club makes the snow last longer, as the volume of skiers is not as high as other mountains.
When the DRB asked if the plan is in accordance with Act 250, a state law that protects the environment and the safety of citizens during a large development, the team assured all in attendance that it is. There are no concerns with traffic on Route 100. It is in accordance to all zoning regulations and has been reviewed by specialists.
Rubin also discussed how the Wilmington Fire Department has been involved after the Vermont Department of Public Safety commented on the safety aspects of the proposed building. Fire Chief Ken March has worked with Haystack Club developers in making sure the lodge will comply with fire safety laws.
Locations for fire hydrants have been chosen carefully with March's guidance, said Rubin. The fire department has requested dry sprinkler systems and been active in deciding what roads will work as entrance roads for fire trucks and ambulances. Rubin and his team have a letter of agreement from the department, and continue to meet for ongoing reviews of fire safety.
Another issue brought to the attention of the DRB was a letter pertaining to water-well interference. After blasting began a few weeks ago, a family on Fanny Hill claimed their well water had been affected by blasting. Developers said this was the first time hearing about this. They said they were going to look into it and assured the board that they would take care of any wells that had been affected by the blasting.
"The approval of this 90,000-square-foot lodge is the capstone to our recent permitting efforts," Rubin says. "This is what makes the club for real."
As the DRB is low in volunteers, the Haystack Club was asked to keep their additions to a minimum because each time they want to make a change to the plan, the board is required to meet. All changes must be submitted and approved by the DRB. As there are not a lot of members, the permitting process gets tiresome for the board.
In the future, the Haystack Club has lots of plans for the mountain. They may even create a water park for the summer.
The building plans also show a more developed plan for a daycare space. This is a designated area of the lodge for children who need to be watched while parents or guardians are out on the mountain. The daycare area is split with ski schools whose activities take place in the lodge.
There are different levels of memberships at the Haystack Club. A 12-month introductory trial membership is $10,000. Individual lifetime membership is $20,000 with an annual due of $2,450. A family lifetime membership is $25,000 with an annual due of $4,900. Those interested in investing in the club may visit hermitageclub.com for specific investment and shareholder plans. To contact the Hermitage Club, e-mail email@example.com or call 802-464-7734.
Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or firstname.lastname@example.org.