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April 17, 2018

Camden Snow Bowl to contract with ski-bike retail business

The Camden Select Board last week decided to pursue negotiations with Sidecountry Sports LLC to set up shop at the municipally owned Camden Snow Bowl.

The PenBay Pilot reported a year-round contract with Sidecountry Sports, owned by Andrew Dailey and Brian Kelly, would allow them to sell and service skis and bikes for the general public at retail shop space currently occupied by Ragged Mountain Sports. Sidecountry operates ski and bike shops in Rockland and Belfast.

The board also agreed to pursue negotiations for a contract renewal with Ragged Mountain Sports, owned by Charlie Pearson, to oversee the maintenance and upgrades of the Snow Bowl's ski and snowboard rental fleet. Pearson has operated Ragged Mountain Sports at the Snow Bowl since 1992, offering products like skis and helmets and also strengthening safety protocols at the mountain, focusing on the maintenance, testing and record-keeping of the Snow Bowl's rental equipment.

Sidecountry would move into the space currently occupied by Ragged Mountain Sports, and Ragged Mountain would move into the current Snow Bowl rental shop.

The shift in locations was proposed in response to the capabilities of the two businesses.

In January 2018, the Snow Bowl issued a request for proposals to run the retail ski shop.

Sidecountry responded with both a winter and a three-season proposal, which would give it a year-round presence on the mountain; Ragged Mountain responded with a winter-only proposal.

In a memo to the town manager and the select board, Camden Snow Bowl Director Beth Ward wrote that Sidecountry's bid better fits with the town's broader plan of making the Snow Bowl and the larger town-owned Ragged Mountain Recreation Area a four-season destination for outdoor recreation.

In addition to winter sports, the Snow Bowl offers warm-weather activities like mountain biking, hiking and a children's day camp, according to its website.

The Ragged Mountain area, which includes the Snow Bowl, has been undergoing redevelopment, which began in 2014, to improve the ski area, transform the overall recreation area into a four-season enterprise, and help stimulate the region's outdoor economy, the newspaper reported. The Camden Snow Bowl is a small, community-owned ski area located about 4.5 miles from Penobscot Bay on 1,300-foot Ragged Mountain.

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