Haystack clears hurdle for new mountain lodge
by Mike Eldred
Oct 18, 2012 | 6800 views | 4 4 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Haystack lodge
An artist’s rendering of the planned Haystack base lodge.  The Wilmington resort’s owners hope to have the facility completed by next fall, in time for the 2013-14 ski season.
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WILMINGTON- Development review board members heard Hermitage Club developer Jim Barnes’ application for a base lodge at Haystack ski area Monday evening.

Formerly known as the Haystack Club under developer Bob Foise, the development has been renamed the Hermitage Club at Haystack since Hermitage Inn owner Jim Barnes purchased the project. The project includes a number of pieces, including timeshare townhouses, a hotel, the base lodge, and other buildings and amenities. The Hermitage Club recently received a wastewater permit for the construction of a “sales office” at the summit of Haystack Area, and is pursuing an Act 250 permit to install a small vertical wind turbine on top of the bull wheel at the top of the Barnstormer lift at the summit. According to a summary, the turbine will be used to supply the power needs for the summit building.

Barnes’ latest application is the third that board members have heard over the last three years – including one for a similar design approved in July. According to Bob Rubin, of the Hermitage Club, when they presented their recent design changes to zoning administrator Alice Herrick, she deemed the changes significant enough to warrant a new hearing on the base lodge.

Architect Bill Austin said there were no changes in use, with the exception of a change in what had been designated as a day care space. The area will be a room in the children’s ski school.

Austin said the changes were in design and construction details. One change will incorporate more steel in the building’s skeleton to support more open space. “The building is laid out on a 16-foot grid to accommodate timber framing,” Austin said. “On the two lower levels we switched to steel for a 32-foot grid.”

Overall, the building will be 224 feet long, 126 feet wide at its widest point, and will have about 92,000 square feet of interior space, with about 14,500 square feet of porches and patios.

Austin said the overall square footage was increased, but mainly underground. The basement foundations were extended outward, under a series of porches and patios around the base lodge. Austin said there would be more room in the basement, but the main reason for the change was to be able to begin construction sooner, and work in a more efficient way. “To meet Mr. Barnes’ desire to get into post and beam construction at the first of the year, we have to have a full foundation. The porches were meant to sit on frost walls, but if we did that we wouldn’t be able to build until spring, because we’d be building on fill. So we bumped out the foundation to accommodate all that load, and now we can work sequentially.”

Noting that the Hermitage Club is currently negotiating a fire agreement with the Wilmington Fire Department, DRB chair Nicki Steel asked if they had discussed the design with the department.

Engineer Bob Harrington said he met with the department and reviewed the plans. “We positioned fire hydrants around the building where they wanted them,” he said. “They also wanted a dry sprinkler system with outside connections for the trucks as well as the charged system the building will have.”

Rubin said he was continuing to work on an overall agreement with the town, and said the Hermitage Club and the town have agreed to have an expert review the old agreement along with the latest design, and recommend any changes.

Rubin also noted that the Wilmington Police Department has asked that the Hermitage Club have overnight security on the site starting November 1.

The board also read a letter from the owners of a property on Fanny Hill who expressed concern after their house lost water pressure and, when pressure returned, the water was muddy. They attributed the loss in water pressure and cloudy water to blasting for the base lodge. The property owners wanted the Hermitage Club to assume responsibility for any further water problems.

But Harrington said they had been blasting two or three times a day for “a couple of months” under their permit, and were actually moving away from Fanny Hill. “This is the first we’ve seen or heard about this,” said Harrington. “We’ll talk to the blaster, review this, and take any action we have to. I don’t know if we did affect it, but we’re responsible.”

The building includes four floors, two in the basement and two above ground. The bottom basement floor will include shipping and receiving, a mechanical room, a laundry room, a prep kitchen, a teen center with a movie theater and virtual bowling area, and part of the spa.

The second basement level will include the rest of the spa, a retail store, ski tuning, ski storage, a ski rental and demo center, day care and ski school, lockers, and a yoga and fitness center, and a lap pool.

The ground floor includes the lobby and dining room area and serving station, ski valet and ski storage, and the club’s main marketing and real estate sales offices. The top floor has an open balcony, as well as member ski storage.

The construction and the completed building are slated to add as many as 100 jobs to the local economy. “We had a job safety meeting yesterday, and there were 41 people there – plumbers, electricians, sheetrockers, masons, landscapers, blasters, and excavators. With the exception of the blasters, they’re all local people. When construction begins, a building like the base lodge could have 30 to 100 people working on any given day. When it’s in full operation with the spa, kitchen, waitstaff, and all the different functions, there could be 70 to 100 people there on a daily basis.”

By statute, the DRB has 45 days from the closing of the hearing in which to make their decision, however, most of their decisions have taken substantially less time.

According to Rubin, construction on the base lodge could begin sometime next month.
Comments-icon Post a Comment
Carl Swanson
October 19, 2012
areader2: Your continued negative comments show either that you are left over from the stone age or that you sit home and collect checks instead of having to fight to survive in this town. Did you see the amount of people this project can employ on a regular basis? Please move, or share your income with everyone else so we don't have to worry about working to survive.
uncle fudd
October 19, 2012
I'm sure everyone in the valley will get everything they have coming
M Gilberg
October 18, 2012
Its nice to see activity again moving forward at Haystack and the ratables in terms of tax revenues that the Town and the State will derive from them.

At the same time, we have to ask ourselves, other than as service personnel, i.e. maids, waitstaff, cooks, bottlewashers, what contact will the average local have with the Mountain and its facilities or will it become a restricted playground for those who can pony up $10,000. for a one year "trial" membership or $20,000.00 plus an extra $5,000.00 -/year for a liftetime membership.

One hopes that the Selectboard in agreeing to the assignment of town owned lands (the Glebe lease) to the Haystack/Hermitage project included a requirement, similar to that provided in the Mount Snow sales agreement) that mandates the sale of a number of reasonably priced day tickets for sale to Wilmington residents. In any event, Mr. Barnes should state his intentions on matters such as this.

Nicholas Yavaldakis
October 31, 2012
The tone of your comment suggests that you prefer it to remain an abandoned project. Forget about the real estate taxes that the town will collect. Forget about the sales tax that will be collected. Forget about the dollars those who can "pony up" will be spending in local restaurants, ski shops, and the other local businesses. AND even though you have no stake in the land, you would like a "reasonably priced" day ticket-hmmm. Let me look up the word entitlements.....

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