Readers: This story was updated at 6 p.m. on Friday, May 25 to conform to the version published in print versions of the Reformer.
DUMMERSTON — For the past 18 years, Maple Valley Ski Area on Route 30 has sat empty, a relic of bygone years when many towns across New England had rope tows on town-owned hills and privately owned ski areas.
On May 23, a "member managed" company from Connecticut purchased the 375-acre property, which was revealed in a press release from Better Homes and Gardens The Masiello Group in Brattleboro.
Andy Reed, of The Vermont Sales Group with Four Seasons Sotheby’s International Realty in Manchester, said his team, which previously listed the property for sale, worked with the buyer as their agent for a year leading up to the transaction to secure the sale.
The property, listed at 3219 Route 30, is assessed at $1,477,300. Sugar Mountain purchased the property from MVS Associates for $745,000.
"We are really excited," said Sally Fegley, who, with Steve Schoppmeyer, was the listing agent for the property. "We feel like we pulled off something really special."
According to the Vermont Secretary of State's Office, the new owner is Sugar Mountain Holdings based in Weatouge, Conn. The listing notes Sugar Mountain is "member managed" and Keane Aures, who is listed as a "member" on the filing, is the only person mentioned. Aures is the senior counsel in the Hartford office of the law firm of Gordon & Rees. Aures specializes in construction law.
"The buyer has not revealed plans for its new use," said Fegley.
Messages left by voice mail and email for Aures on Thursday had not been returned as of press time Thursday.
Sugar Mountain Holdings was registered with the state of Vermont on Dec. 18, 2017, as a real estate, rental and leasing company.
Zeke Goodband, the chairman of the Dummerston Select Board, said rumors have been circulating in town for the past couple of months about someone showing interest in the property.
"This is good news," he said, when told about the sale. "I used to take my kids there and drop them off for a whole day of skiing into the evening. "Like everyone, I am interested and anxious to find out what the next life of Maple Valley will be. I hope for the best and hope it will be something that will benefit the community and the surrounding towns."
Fegley told the Reformer that the old ski lodge at Maple Valley is like a ski museum.
"There are calendars on the wall from 2000, old newspapers scattered around and skis and old boots just left there," she said.
In 2011, MVS Associates, based in Stamford, Conn., and represented by Nicholas Mercede, proposed a four-season resort at the former ski area. In addition to skiing, Mercede proposed a long list of possible activities including mountain biking, hiking, paint ball, foliage viewing, archery camps, antique car shows, dances and movies.
However, the Dummerston Development Review Board ruled the application did not have enough details for it to make a decision. In 2013, Mercede returned to the DRB with a revised application, but he was met with resistance from neighbors who were concerned about noise and lighting.
"This isn't a business community anymore," said neighbor, Judy Placey. "This is a residential community. People live in these houses. And these lights affect us, and this noise affects us."
Others, such as Beverly Kenney, the owner of Brattleboro North KOA campground in East Dummerston, said a reopened Maple Valley could provide an economic boost to the area.
On Thursday, Kenney said she was excited to hear that the ski area had been sold, but was withholding judgment until she learns more about the new owner's plans.
"I support a project there for an obvious reason — it will fill my campground and my cottages," Kenney said.
In addition to his work in construction law, Aures regularly does pro bono work, states the website. "He has helped veterans with legal advice related to obtaining housing and benefits. He also has volunteered his legal services by representing non-profit organizations through drafting construction agreements and dealing with construction defect claims."
Bob Audette can be contacted at 802-254-2311, ext. 151, or firstname.lastname@example.org.