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Need Help From Mid-Atlantic Bears (long)

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
I've been involved in getting some of the best ski terrain in the Mid-Atlantic reopened, that being Laurel Mountain State Park in western Pennsylvania. I need all sincerely interested people to contact PA Governor Ed Rendell and ask that he authorized the funding to upgrade Laurel’s infrastructure as detailed in House Bill 1589. In essence, the new owners of nearby Hidden Valley Four Season Resort have been working with the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (PA State Parks) to enter into a private/public partnership to open Laurel. They reportedly have withdrawn interest due to the lack of state funding.

Laurel is Pennsylvania's oldest ski area having started as a private club in the 1930s. Laurel operated from that time until 1989 when it first was closed. In 1999 Laurel re-opened but closed doors again by 2005.

Some of
Laurel's first trails were laid out by Hannes Schneider, widely regarded as the father of modern skiing. Laurel also launched the career of 'Doc' DesRoches who many credit with laying the foundation of the SnowSports Industries America, this nation’s foremost snow sport trade association.

Along with Schneider designed Broadway and Innsbruck Laurel also has Lower Wildcat a true expert trail with a 28 degree pitch with about 600 vertical feet. Total vertical listed for the ski area is 900. There are only 75 acres in cut trails but the mature forest offers some hidden surprises.

There is a lengthy thread on DCSki.com concerning Laurel full of all kind of detail that started in March 2007. The most current news begins around post #36331. There are 262 posts and almost 98,000 views.

Here is a copy of a letter I’ve been circulating to all interested in seeing
Laurel Mountain opened again:

July 29, 2008
Dear Laurel Mountain supporters,

I believe when last I wrote we learned that the Buncher Company, who has purchased Hidden Valley Ski Resort and is planning an estimated 1 billion dollar investment in the surrounding area, is in talks with the State concerning a lease to operate Laurel Mountain. Buncher has reached agreement with Somerset Trust to buy Laurel’s assets pending a lease agreement. As I understand the situation the Buncher Company will then give the assets they have purchased from Somerset Trust to the Commonwealth as part of a long term lease agreement. These assets include the quad chair lift, the lodge, all snow making guns and related equipment, snow grooming machines and other items such as maintenance tools that remain at the site. Buncher Company is willing to operate Laurel Mountain as a public service without expectation of making a profit. In other words, Buncher will operate Laurel with only the expectation that the operation breaks even to pay for operating costs.

The whole project is dependent on the DCNR making very substantial investments in Laurel that include replacing the double chair with a new quad and expanded snow making. To this end, State Senator Donald White and State Senator Richard Kasunic have requested that $6.5 million be place in the State budget for capital projects. The entire capital budget is listed in House Bill #1589. The items listed in this capital budget must get final approval from Governor Ed Rendell. Not all capital projects listed will receive funding, most won’t be funded. Laurel Mountain’s infrastructure improvements will not happen unless Governor Rendell releases the funds. If the funds are released for Laurel all the improvements made at Laurel will be the property of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

I urge you to write the Governor and express your support for Laurel. Local politicians see this as a job creation project and an economic engine for related tourist businesses in the area. If you are a local resident you may wish to express your support for those reasons. If you are from outside the region or you may wish to inform the Governor that you will support Laurel with your patronage. I think it is important to write the Governor and express your support. There has been opposition from the Greensburg Tribune-Review editorial board and it is up to Laurel supporters to counter that opposition by contacting the Governor and local politicians who have backed the Buncher Company efforts to re-open Laurel.

You may write Governor Rendell at:

Governor Edward G. Rendell
Governor’s Office
225 Main Capitol Building
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania17120
E-mail the Governor's Office

Please act now,
Robert Davis
post #2 of 9
I dunno how much good it will do for someone who isn't a constituant to contact the governor, but I'll be happy to send a message as a possible ski tourist.
Keep us apprised.
post #3 of 9
Good Luck man. Git er done!
post #4 of 9
Originally Posted by Trekchick View Post
I dunno how much good it will do for someone who isn't a constituant to contact the governor, but I'll be happy to send a message as a possible ski tourist.
That's what I did.
post #5 of 9
Thread Starter 
News post earlier today said that Governor Rendell has released the funds for Laurel Mountain. DCskier screen name imp, who I know and is reliable, said that the Mayor of Ligonier received a call from the Governor today. There are no details and it is too early to say if Laurel will open this year. I doubt this will be the case as there is much to do.

I still can't believe it and I'll hold my breath until official word comes down but this is great news.

Thank all of you for your support and just in case, keep those cards and letters coming folks.

post #6 of 9
Great work...hope its true.

I broke my first ski at Laurel.... Wooden Sears skis with screw on metal edges. In the moguls, tip and tail were on the peaks....my 80# body was too much.

Skied the rest of the day with one foot on the beginners slope. Neither dad nor I had the cash to rent. I'm better for it today. Most kids my age would have called it a day...

Fond memories of the hill....I would love to take my son/daughter there someday to recant my good ole days................
post #7 of 9
Thread Starter 
Here's a little reminder of what you've been missing.

A great photo of Lower Wildcat from DCskier RobertW:

post #8 of 9
You da MAN, Mr. C!! Fingers crossed for you! Perhaps we'll come round to ski you!
post #9 of 9
Thread Starter 
I can breath again, first official news published this morning in the Johnstown Tribune-Democrat:

$6.5 million boost could revive Laurel Mountain

Now I'm asking all that have e-mailed Governor Rendell to send some thank you letters. Senators White and Kasunic should also be contacted. Use the links provided in the first post.

Also, so far unmentioned but probably the biggest Laurel Mountain booster among the public officials working to make this happen, Mayor Butch Bellas of Ligonier. You can send him a note at:

Mayor Bellas
Town Hall
120 East Main Street
Ligonier, PA 15658

Most of all thank all of you who have taken the time to join our effort and thanks to the Epic Team for the cyber-space to help make this happen.

Thank you all and come ski Laurel Mountain.
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