HUNTER — Hunter Mountain expansion is picking up speed as owners announced permit approval on a $9 million project to blaze five new trails and a high-speed chair lift on the mountain’s north-facing slope Thursday.
Construction is expected to begin in April for open trails in time for next year’s ski season, said Katie O’Connor, Hunter Mountain marketing director.
Representatives of Peak Resorts, the company that owns Hunter Mountain, announced that with approved permits, construction on five new trails — four intermediate level and one beginner level — is slated to begin this month. The expansion will add an additional 25 to 30 percent of acreage between Hunter Mountain and Hunter West, according to the announcement.
“The Hunter North expansion will provide our guests and Peak Pass passholders with an entirely new area to explore,” said Jesse Boyd, Peak Resorts senior vice president of operations. “The new entrance, arrival area and high-speed lift will provide guests with easy access to a new area of intermediate-level terrain that will dramatically broaden the variety of trails that Hunter has to offer.”
The primary permits were approved by the state Department of Environmental Conservation, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, O’Connor said.
The agencies examined Hunter’s environmental design to make sure it complied with watershed regulations, discharge regulations and stormwater pollution protection.
Hunter sits atop the New York City Watershed, which supplies the city with drinking water. Local permits included an environmental review approved by the Hunter Planning Board in February. Some of Hunter’s planned acreage expansion crosses into the town of Jewett, and the plans also appeared before the Jewett Planning Board.
On the Jewett side, minor changes to the site plan included the location of stop signs and consolidating two 5-foot culverts into a single large culvert, according to the Jewett Planning Board minutes from Feb. 1.
Hunter Mountain started the application process with the Hunter Planning Board using input from the Jewett Planning Board in June, which included a public hearing and comment from the local community, O’Connor said Thursday. Since the permit process began, only minor changes were made, she said.
“All comments are taken into consideration and it’s up to the town to review them and make adjustments,” she said. “Ultimately, the permits were approved.”
“I think it will be good for the area and the slope,” said Hunter Town Supervisor Daryl Legg, who skis at Hunter Mountain. “It’ll give skiers more access to different terrain and ease congestion. I haven’t heard any concerns, but skiers are excited about it.”
Hunter Planning Board Chairwoman Sarah Killourhy and Jewett Planning Board Chairman Greg Kroyer could not be reached for comment Thursday.
“The support we’ve received for this project from the local community and our loyal guests has been phenomenal from the time it was announced,” said Russ Coloton, general manager and president of Hunter Mountain. “This expansion of our skiable terrain will be felt both locally and regionally through increased visitors not only to our resort but across the surrounding communities, including local businesses,” he said.
The expansion is expected to cost about $9 million, according to the statement. Because the expansion is a capital project, it will be completed through Hunter’s capital budget, O’Connor said.
At Hunter Mountain, crews are preparing to begin logging, excavating, and regrading the slope for ability level, O’Connor said. The company expects to perform a load test on the chair lift around December, and open the slopes for the 2019 season.