RANGELEY, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — After two years of uncertainty, a group from Australia buys Saddleback Mountain with lofty goals to make it a premiere ski resort in the country.
The Majella Group is buying the ski mountain from the current owners Bill and Irene Berry of Farmington and made the announcement on Wednesday, June 28. They say the sale of Maine's third largest ski resort will be finalized sometime this summer.
The Majella group CEO, Sebastian Monsour says they want to turn Saddleback into a "premiere ski resort in North America", and make it a four season destination.
The new CEO of Saddleback Mountain Ski Resort is Fred LaMontagne. He moved to Maine when he was 15 years-old and was a Portland firefighter and Fire Chief for over 20 years.
LaMontagne says the current chair lifts will be replaced with the newest systems and several other updates will be made to the resort.
The group says they will offer jobs to Mainers first, before looking elsewhere to upgrade their workforce.
A group of local business owners and community members in Rangeley had tried to buy the Saddleback Mountain Ski Resort.
In a statement, the group called the Saddleback Mountain Foundation says they are happy for the future of the mountain and that they will return the donations made to their cause.
It was announced back in the fall of 2016, that the group was going to band together to try and buy their beloved Saddleback Mountain Ski Resort. They say the closing of the mountain caused serious economic hardship for the tourism-driven area.
Relying on donations from the public, and promising exclusive ski memberships - the Saddleback Mountain Foundation was born. A verbal agreement was reached with the mountain's current owners- the Berry family. This group would apply as a non-profit, and raise the money to reopen the mountain.
The foundation's leaders said they need to raise $4 million to close the deal and potentially open the resort in time for ski season.
The Saddleback Mountain Foundation says the group received $5 million in pledges. The deal also includes the Trust for Public buying three thousand acres next to the ski area.
As the months went on, weekly newsletters were published on a private Facebook page called "Saddleback Mountain Foundation" for donors and interested community members. The group contains over 1,300 members.