Town, mountain debrief Minus Zero
DOVER - At the Dover Selectboard’s Tuesday meeting, town officials and representatives from Mount Snow gave a recap of the Minus Zero Festival, which was held at Mount Snow April 6 through April 8. Police chief Randy Johnson said overall the event went “better than I expected,” but both he and highway commissioner Bobby Holland spoke about overwork and road condition issues following a Friday night snowstorm. Vice chair Vicki Capitani asked Mount Snow if sales tax had been paid on ticket sales, and the board noted that a few letters had been received about the festival. Inn owner Jim Desrochers said from his perspective the event had been a success and he hopes it will come back.
Johnson tipped his hat to Mount Snow’s Tim Dolan, and the staff at Mount Snow, for the success of the event. “Tim did a fabulous job with this event,” said Johnson, noting that few issues arose. Johnson said officers from Winhall, who worked the event when it was held in Stratton in previous years, commented that they were surprised at how smoothly it went.
Johnson said there were no overdoses, though there were “some people who obviously tripped a bit and had to go to medical.” Johnson said an officer was assaulted, but charges were not being pressed. “The guy was just so out of it and the people in medical said he was one of the nicest guys you could imagine,” said Johnson.
“The medical service we put together worked really well,” said Dolan, noting that no ambulance transports were required during the festival. “There were a limited number of incidents where people needed to be treated. A handful were larger issues, but for the most part it was people who needed water and to lay down for a half hour.”
Dolan said that approximately 15,000 tickets were sold for the event, though it was unclear how many of those were unique visitors versus repeats over the three days.
Though most said they found festival attendees nice and respectful, Holland said he and his crew had negative experiences during the snowstorm. “These people were dangerous to be on the road,” said Holland. “They were jumping out in front of the plows to see if we would dodge them.”
Holland said if the festival comes back, he would like to see more involvement from the Dover Police and Mount Snow. “Mount Snow were the first ones to call and say the roads were slippery,” said Holland. “Our road was bare, theirs was slippery. So somebody has to figure out where Mount Snow’s road is and where our road is. I think Mount Snow should have helped out a little plowing around the area.”
Johnson said Route 100, which the state maintains, was “horrendous” during the snowstorm. “When I left that night I couldn’t even tell if the state had been out. I don’t know why the state wasn’t keeping up with Route 100,” said Johnson, noting that some festival attendees were involved in a rollover accident in Wardsboro as a result of the road conditions. “That particular vehicle ended up on its roof. The people were all sober.”
Desrochers suggested that perhaps the state’s budget was depleted, since the storm happened so late in the season. Holland said in addition to using three times the material he typically would to mitigate the effects of the snow with so many inexperienced drivers on the roads, he personally felt overworked. “I’d already worked 19 hours and felt unsafe on the road, so I went home,” said Holland. “I got called back out 15 minutes later and ended up working 30 hours in a row, and that’s not good. I worked 83 hours that week.”
Johnson said he and his team also felt overworked. “It was a very long weekend,” said Johnson. “Come Sunday my staff had had it. They were wiped. So we might tweak a few things if it comes back. I don’t have a very big department to pull from. For the three days, I myself probably put in over 60 hours. A lot of my staff put in 40 just in those three days, plus their regular shifts they had to work on top of that.”
Capitani said issues of overwork would need to be looked at if the festival comes back next year. “We have officer safety issues and highway safety issues that we need to figure out in the future,” said Capitani. “Hopefully it wouldn’t snow again, but either way, there are officer safety issues.”
Capitani asked Dolan if sales tax had been paid on ticket sales, noting that a resident had asked her. Dolan said that paying all sales tax, including Dover’s 1% tax, was part of Mount Snow’s contract with the Minus Zero Festival. “Certainly if they would like to come back here, that needs to happen, for sure,” said Dolan.
Chair Josh Cohen said the board had received two letters of complaint about the festival. “Both are complaints about the noise, which I think we were expecting,” said Cohen. “We also got a letter of support from Tim and Becky Clark at TC’s — they did well that weekend.”
Desrochers said from his perspective as an inn owner, the festival had been a success. “Many of (the festival attendees) were new to the area and I think a lot of them will come back because they discovered a really cool place to come and ski and hike,” said Desrochers. “Kudos to Mount Snow. Thank you very much. Until we get an area with bells and whistles like mountain trains and waterparks, this type of event is what we should be striving for.”