WATERVILLE — People who cross-country ski this winter at Quarry Road Recreation Area are being asked to donate money to help cover the cost of snowmaking.

As part of the program, skiers would receive stickers for their vehicles based on three donation levels: gold, $100; silver, $50; and bronze, $20. A daily voluntary fee for ski trail use is $5.

City councilors Wednesday voted 6-0 to approve the voluntary fee schedule, which came recommended by the group The Friends of Quarry Road.

The group’s goal is to raise $30,000 annually to support the snowmaking budget, Secretary Caroline Mathes told councilors.

Mathes, who also is coordinator of the Central Maine Ski Club, and Parks and Recreation Director Matt Skehan emphasized that the fee schedule is voluntary and for ski trails use only.

Skehan said Thursday that it is really a pilot project to see whether snowmaking costs can be supported by donations from those who have the means and want to help.

“We don’t want to have a mandatory membership situation out there,” he said. “The Friends of Quarry Road board is optimistic that the sticker program will work and we won’t have to have a mandatory fee schedule in the future.”

He said organizers may learn through the project that Waterville taxpayers think they’re doing enough by paying taxes.

“That may be the case, and that’s fine with us, too,” he said.

Resident Heather Merrow asked Wednesday whether she has to pay a fee to hike at Quarry Road. City officials said she does not.

Councilor Eliza Mathias, D-Ward 6, asked whether someone buying a support sticker also would pay a daily fee.

“No,” Mathes assured her.

Quarry Road is a 200-acre, four-season recreation area for hiking, bicycling, walking, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. It is owned and operated by the city.

“It’s something that continues to evolve into a major recreation destination spot, and something that will be beneficial for economic growth in the area,” City Manager Michael Roy said Thursday. “It certainly contributes to the economic health of the city and the region by attracting people from all over to come and visit. However, there is a cost to get it to that point, and that’s what the fee schedule is all about.”

Mayor Karen Heck on Wednesday explained the voluntary fee schedule as a sort of pyramid. Those who are able to give the most money are at the top of the pyramid and are likely fewer in number than those who make up the remainder of the pyramid and give less money but are greater in number.

She encouraged people to give to the cause.

The Quarry Road facility was the idea of ski enthusiast John Koons, who initially worked with Roy and Skehan to plan and design it. Then volunteers provided their own ideas and formed The Friends of Quarry Road, which helped organize the Central Maine Ski Club.

“I think it’s important for the city to note the work done by The Friends of Quarry Road and how they’ve gotten to this point,” Roy said Thursday. “We are very grateful for everything they have done to advance this.”

Quarry road is off North Street, near MaineGeneral Medical Center’s Thayer Campus.

Amy Calder — 861-9247
acalder@centralmaine.com