The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

November 11, 2009

Seven Springs signs lease to operate Laurel Mountain

LIGONIER — Though it boasts the state’s steepest slope, there never seemed to be enough cash, snow or paying customers to sustain Laurel Mountain Ski Resort.

But now, a much bigger and more prosperous neighbor will try its hand at bringing the Westmoreland County ski area back to life.

Seven Springs Mountain Resort officials said Wednesday that they will operate Laurel Mountain under a new, 10-year deal with the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

Skiers who are itching to return to Laurel Mountain, however, will have to wait a while: Seven Springs will undertake significant renovations before reopening the resort.

“We need to take a close look at everything,” Seven Springs spokeswoman Anna Weltz said, adding that Laurel Mountain will not open this winter.

Seven Springs’ involvement is not a surprise.

Late last year, the Somerset County resort purchased all of Laurel Mountain’s ski assets from Somerset Trust Co.

But, because the Laurel Mountain ski area sits on state park land, Seven Springs needed a lease with the state in order to operate the resort.

That deal now is done. Terms were not immediately disclosed.

Much work remains, however, because Laurel Mountain has been dormant for the past four winters.

Weltz said representatives from Seven Springs, DCNR and a design consultant will be meeting to determine the size and scope of improvement projects needed at Laurel Mountain.

In addition to upgrading facilities and equipment, Seven Springs administrators also may need to undertake utility work to get the Ligonier-area resort back into shape.

“Everything’s under consideration,” Weltz said. “We need to take a close look at everything.”

Weltz said she could not speculate on when that work will be complete.

When Laurel Mountain eventually reopens, she expects that it will complement Seven Springs, which is the state’s largest ski resort.

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