Skiers expressed uncertainty Thursday whether Saddleback ski area in Rangeley will be able to remain open this winter after the resort announced possible scenarios to remain financially viable.

In July, Saddleback said it would need to raise $3 million within two weeks to replace an aging chairlift or it would close for the 2015-16 season. On Wednesday evening, the resort posted on its Facebook page that it had “exhausted all reasonable financing options” to replace its 51-year-old Rangeley Double Chair with a high-speed quad chair that could double the number of skiers who could be lifted up the mountain.

But the Facebook post also outlined four scenarios the ski area owners are considering: an investor negotiating to purchase the resort and install a lift this year; a potential buyer negotiating to option the resort and close it this winter; two buyers looking to purchase the ski area and have it run as is this winter; and a possible lease option.

The resort’s ownership declined to comment Thursday when contacted by the Portland Press Herald. Saddleback General Manager Chris Farmer said last week in an email to the newspaper that the resort had two deals from potential investors on the table.

Farmer said in July that the resort has been operating at a loss since the real estate crash of 2008, and that the owners, Bill and Irene Berry of Farmington, have had to supplement operational costs since then.

The Berrys bought the ski area in 2003 and their family invested $40 million in the ski area to help the community, including two new quad chairlifts and a new base lodge. The family put the ski area up for sale in 2012. It employs more than 300 people.

Skiers expressed hope Saddleback would remain open, but they also have doubts whether a deal could happen in time for the winter season.

Heather Newman MacKinnon of Brunswick, who works on the Saddleback ski patrol, said Thursday her family is not making other ski plans until she hears the mountain is closed.

“I am very hopeful one of the four options will come through. I have faith Chris Farmer and the team will come up with a solution that everyone can live with,” MacKinnon said. “We don’t know what they’re working on. It’s been for sale for a while. Things could be in place and they just need to work out the details.”

Others said the idea of installing a chairlift this year was unrealistic.

“I don’t see an option where a lift will go in before this season,” said Mike Chase of Westbrook, who is a part-time ski instructor at the ski area and a Saddleback skier for 30 years. “I just think the timing is off, so much has to be done to prep. I think it would be very difficult to get a lift in and open with a new lift. But I think most people who have been there would be happy with the mountain just opening.”

Others were skeptical any of the options will come to pass given the fact winter is not far away.

“It was great news to hear that Saddleback is in negotiations with prospective buyers, but I am apprehensive that a decision will come quickly enough,” said Jeff Marcoux, one of the volunteers on the glade crew at Black Mountain of Rumford.

“Saddleback holds a special place in my heart as it also does for many Maine skiers. It has not lost it’s identity throughout the years.”

Barry Tripp of Carrabassett Valley was even more skeptical.

“I think it’s really up in the air. When they first started the discussion of not opening without upgrades, that seemed bizarre. It seemed odd,” Tripp said. “If they shut down there is a pretty big contingent of families that will really be hurt, particularly the kids who ski there. It would be a tragic loss.”

Staff Writer Deirdre Fleming can be reached at 791-6452 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: FlemingPph

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