Villa Roma Gets
By John Emerson
MONTICELLO September 15, 2000 The Town of Thompson got out of the ski business Wednesday when contracts to lease the towns Holiday Mountain Ski Area were signed and the operation was turned over to Craig Passante of the Villa Roma Hotel.
Ive been in town government for 26 years, and I think this is the most positive step weve ever taken for the taxpayers of this town, said Supervisor Tony Cellini. Weve relieved a financial burden from our taxpayers and turned that burden over to a group who will turn it into a year-round recreational attraction that will benefit everyone.
Under the terms of the agreement, Passante paid the town $100,000 to lease the ski area for this year and has a renewal option for next year at the same lease rate. The deal also gives him the right to purchase the hill outright at an overall cost of $1.2 million at any time over the next two years. Any lease payments will be applied to the purchase price.
In addition to operating the ski area in the winter, Passante has plans to create a water park at the mountain during the summer. The area was rarely used in the summer months when the town was operating the ski hill.
The town board has been working on the agreement since January when Passante expressed interest in acquiring the ski area. In the months between the handshake agreement that sealed the deal, opponents of the sale, including some members of the towns Parks and Recreation Commission, vowed to fight the sale.
The support for the town maintaining ownership and operation of the ski area never materialized, and those plans were apparently dropped.
The town also had to obtain the approval of both the state legislature and the governor before the deal could be consummated, because the ski area was considered to be parkland. Those approvals were granted in June and July respectively.
In the more than 40 years since the ski area in Bridgeville opened for business, the town has never broken even on the operating costs involved. During the last 10 years or so, the losses, which averaged about $350,000 a year, were made up through tax revenues.
This year when town board members begin the budget process for 2001, they will not only have an additional $100,000 in revenues from the lease, but they will also not have to include $400,000 to cover expected operating losses.