Dixville Notch, New Hampshire — If there’s one ski resort expansion I want to see happen in my lifetime, it’s in New Hampshire’s Great North Woods.

For the last decade, U.S. Ski & Snowboard Hall of Famer Les Otten has attempted to revive The Balsams Resort and its adjacent ski area in New Hampshire, which last operated in 2011. Despite clearing the regulatory hurdles needed to begin construction, they have remained tight-lipped on a timeline due to the current day economic difficulties. Based on the latest developments, whether this reopening will actually happen remains to be seen.

The Berlin Sun reports that the Coos County Planning Board approved a plan from The Balsams Resort to extend its vesting period by eight years. The vesting period, which originally lasted until Jan. 18, 2025, has been moved to Jan 18th, 2032. According to Tara Bamford, who’s the consultant that’s assisting the planning board with The Balsams redevelopment, the vesting period is defined as “the length of time they have to complete Phase 1 in order for the project to be protected from any future changes in the zoning ordinance, site plan regulations and subdivision regulations.”

They also updated a small portion of their phase one plan, which includes a renovation of the Hampshire House, three new chairlifts, and 100 acres of skiable terrain expansion. Now, the old triple chairlift that serviced the Balsams Wilderness will either be replaced with a new chairlift or renovated.

However, skepticism among the Planning Board is beginning to grow. Planning Board Vice Chairman Mike Waddell is growing concerned at the state of the facility, which they haven’t publically toured in five years. While the golf course is being maintained, the main Balsams building is reportedly in rough shape. During the meeting: Waddell stated something that many skeptics have pointed out about the project:

“My fear is you’re not going to have a hotel to renovate…No one has come forward with a giant bag of capital to make this happen.”

Because of the concerns about the facility, a tour of the facility is planned, which would be classified as a public meeting.

However, the Coos County Planning Board remains optimistic that this extension can jumpstart The Balsams project. They cited North Country Growers, a greenhouse that went through years of trials and tribulations before opening this year thanks to help from the Planning Board and the Town of Berlin. New Hampshire’s North Country is remote and economically challenged, so a development like the Balsams is seen as a potential boom for the region. Thus, this project has been given a decent amount of leeway and patience.

In terms of the Wilderness expansion, when the full buildout is completed, the revived Balsams Wilderness would have 2200 skiable acres, 22 lifts, and a vertical drop of 2050 feet. A gondola will go from the hotel to the summit of the old Balsams Wilderness, and a skier bridge will bring guests back to the main village.

A gondola would go from the hotels at The Balsams hotel complex to the ski resort. At the end of the day, skiers would reach the hotel by going across a skier bridge over Route 26. If the skier bridge isn’t ready, the plan is to have a shuttle service to transport skiers to and from the main campus. The new base lodge will be the Lake Gloriette House, which will be rebuilt. Construction for the first phase of the massively expanded ski resort is expected to take two years.

Phase one of the project.

Will we see this happen? I have no idea, but each passing year without construction progress, the less likely The Balsams will come back to life.

Image Credits: The Balsams Resort, Skimap.org

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