Gifts bring Dewey Mountain close to a new lodge

SARANAC LAKE – A grassroots effort to raise money for a new base lodge at Dewey Mountain Recreation Center has received two major new gifts.

The financial boost arrives as three Dewey alumni compete in the Olympics: Tim Burke, biathlon; Annelies Cook, biathlon; and Billy Demong, nordic combined.

Fundraising received a big lift in January, thanks to the generosity of two local families who together pledged $150,000, bringing the gift total to $275,000, approximately 80 percent of the $350,000 needed to make a new lodge a reality.

“The timing of these two wonderful gifts couldn’t be better,” said Chris Morris, chairman of Dewey Mountain Friends, an all-volunteer group that works to improve equipment, trails and facilities at Dewey Mountain Recreation Center, which is owned by the town of Harrietstown. “We are nearing the finish line. These gifts – combined with the generosity of 550 households, businesses and foundations who have made donations over the past few years – give us real hope of breaking ground on the new base lodge this spring.”

Dewey’s current base facility comprises two rapidly deteriorating cabins that are too small to accommodate community events, races, school and youth teams, and visitors who use the 22 kilometers of snowshoe, cross-country-ski, hiking and mountain-bike trails. The aging structures would be demolished and replaced with a garage and lodge that will allow larger events, expanded use and all-season activities.

Three athletes who learned to ski at Dewey as children are competing in the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia: Tim Burke, biathlon; Annelies Cook, biathlon; and Billy Demong, nordic combined. This winter 104 kids with Olympic dreams of their own are receiving coaching at Dewey Mountain, and thousands of people enjoy the trails in all seasons. Dewey Mountain continues to be a fourseason point of destination.

The Town of Harrietstown, which founded the recreation center in 1980, has provided steadfast operating support for 33 years, but its current budget cannot provide capital funds without exceeding the New York State tax cap law. The lodge effort depends entirely on private support in the form of cash as well as inkind donations of labor and materials from local contractors. Recent gifts allow the project to proceed without the added logistical and interest expenses of bonding through the Town of Harrietstown, which had proposed to advance funds this year. The town board has been actively involved in planning to ensure that the new building meets its standards for long-term durability and ease of maintenance.

Harrietstown Supervisor Bob Bevilacqua and Councilman Ron Keough, a longtime supporter of Dewey Mountain, and the Harrietstown Town Board issued a joint statement that “. . . the vision and dreams of young athletes are personified in the Olympians who got their start skiing at Dewey. The programs and everyday use and enjoyment by all ages year-round reflect the benefit of the return on investment at Dewey Mountain.”

Saranac Lake Rotary Foundation has been key to the success of the fundraising campaign. As the nonprofit partner of Dewey Mountain Friends, the foundation provides financial oversight and allows donations to be tax-deductible. Since this is a true community-based project, all gifts will be recognized on the wall of the new lodge. Donations so far range in size from $75,000 to $1.19, the latter contributed by 6-year-old skier and mountain-biker Mason Stoddard, who literally emptied his piggy bank.

Saranac Lake Rotary Foundation and Dewey Mountain Friends have also launched a new online fundraising appeal for the lodge through Adirondack Gives, a crowdfunding site for Adirondack region nonprofits administered by Adirondack Foundation. Visit today to make a gift. Contributions are also gratefully accepted at Saranac Lake Rotary Foundation Dewey Appeal, PO Box 645, Saranac Lake, NY 12983.

For more information about the base lodge project or about how to make a gift, contact Chris Morris at (518) 524-4320 or Mary Thill at (518) 891-1080. For more about happenings at Dewey Mountain, visit