Dewey gets a boost

SARANAC LAKE – The push for a new base lodge at Dewey Mountain Recreation Center received another big boost in late May.

The trustees of the Henry Uihlein II and Mildred A. Uihlein Foundation visited Dewey Mountain on May 20 and presented a check for $25,000 toward construction of a new base lodge.

The Uihlein Foundation offered the award as a challenge grant last fall, contingent on Dewey Mountain Friends and Saranac Lake Rotary Foundation raising at least $50,000 over the winter. The groups were able to raise the money when 322 families and businesses responded with $59,000 in gifts.

“When Dewey Mountain came to the foundation, it was the type of program that the foundation wanted to support because it provided youth winter sports activities, and you know, the connection with Dewey Mountain and some of the current Olympians from our region was important for the foundation,” Uihlein Foundation Trustee Jim McKenna said. “We figured it was a good match.”

The recent surge in fundraising makes the total amount raised for the lodge $124,000. Every single gift will be invested in construction of a new base lodge and trail improvements.

“That was an absolute leap that put the private fundraising component into good shape,” Dewey Mountain Friends Chairwoman Mary Thill said. “We couldn’t have done it without the foundation challenge.”

The town of Harrietstown owns the recreation center, which is used for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in the winter, and hiking and mountain biking the rest of the year. The center is managed by Adirondack Lakes and Trails Outfitters, a Saranac Lake-based outdoor gear store and guide service. Dewey currently has two buildings – a 20-year-old converted job-site trailer and a 40-year-old log cabin – that together serve as its base lodge.

The estimated cost of the lodge is $565,000. Dewey Mountain Friends will seek a New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation grant for 75 percent of the cost this year in hopes of breaking ground in the spring of 2014.

The 3,500-square-foot lodge, designed by North Woods Engineering, would include a large, multi-purpose great room and an office, along with an attached garage to store cross-country skiing gear and other equipment. Plans for a new Dewey Mountain base lodge were announced in the fall of 2010.

Several local builders and materials suppliers have expressed interest in providing partial in-kind help in construction of the lodge.

Jack Burke, a ski coach and member of Dewey Mountain Friends, is excited about the new lodge, not only because of the possibilities it will afford in the winter, but also the summer.

“It’s not just about skiing now, it’s about mountain biking. A lot of the older people are hiking and snowshoeing. It’s a real multi-use facility there, which is great,” Burke said. “The upgrade is so needed because anytime there is an event there, we essentially have to do it outside.”

Steve Doxson is the owner of Adirondack Lakes and Trails and a member of Dewey Mountain Friends.

“It’s looking closer and closer that next year might be the year,” Doxson said. “I think it’d be awesome. It’s really exciting to us, being up there all the time and managing that place, to see this go.”