BRATTLEBORO -- The volunteer members of Living Memorial Park Snow Sports, Inc. got the bad news two years ago.
During a routine inspection of the T-bar lift at the park the group found out that the 50-year-old haul line would have to be replaced.
Before every season the entire lift is inspected for safety by the state and there are occasional small ticket items that have to be purchased to get the lift ready for another winter.
But after the inspection in 2011 the group learned that the cable was fraying, and it was given two years to come up with about $20,000 to replace the line, and other equipment, if the Living Memorial Park ski tow was going to open for the 2013-14 winter.
"We really had no choice," said Living Memorial Park Snow Sports, Inc. Secretary Jake Dixon. "This is such a great program for the kids. We have to keep it going."
The organization, which helps run and fund the ski tow and is not funded by the town, was able to come up with the money and this weekend a crew installed the new cable.
Along with a list of other routine maintenance the work crew, and a group of volunteers, were out all weekend getting the lift ready for the first snowfall of the season.
The money for replacing the cable arrived in big donations, and small ones. The annual Marina Restaurant Plunge for Charity raised about $11,000 this year and a Windham Foundation grant brought in another $6,000. Plenty of individual checks came in as well, Dixon said.
"People know how important this is for the town and we get a lot of support," she said. "A lot of people learned how to ski here."
Even without the major project, which is hopefully a once-in-every-half-century undertaking Dixon said, the group has to scrape together every dollar to keep the tow running.
The groomer needs maintenance, the group runs snow guns when Mother Nature does not cooperate, and even though the lift is mostly run by volunteers, electric bills have to be paid to keep the gears spinning.
The town installed the ski lift at Living Memorial Park in 1957 but after a few seasons of disappointing snow fall, and rising costs, the town voted to stop operating the lift in 1995.
Two years later volunteers formed Living Memorial Park Snow Sports, Inc. to get the ski tow running again.
They have been committed to keeping prices low and a day pass costs just $5.
When the snow is good, on average, about 100 people come out each weekend day.
The group had a pretty good year last winter and Dixon said when spring time rolled around the 2012-13 season ended up in the black.
Work seemed to progress well this weekend.
There are still small projects to complete, and you never know how much snow will fall, but with the new cable installed Dixon said Living Memorial Park Snow Sports, Inc. is ready for the season, and hopefully many more to come.
Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; or 802-254-2311, ext. 279. You can follow Howard on Twitter @HowardReformer