SARANAC LAKE – A demolition crew started clearing the way Wednesday for a new base lodge at Dewey Mountain Recreation Center.
As a crowd of about 20 people watched, an excavator from Martin’s Excavation in Lake Clear laid waste to the cross-country ski and snowshoe center’s log cabin, which was built in 1981 with the help of state prisoners from Ray Brook. The same will happen Monday to the dilapidated trailer that’s served as the center’s primary base lodge for more than 20 years.
“It was a little bittersweet because there’s a lot of good memories in that old cabin, for sure,” said Jason Smith of Adirondack Lakes and Trails Outfitters, which manages the ski center for the town of Harrietstown. “At the same time, it’s leading the way to a new, bigger and better building that will house our increasing number of skiers and users, and it’s going to help us all four seasons as well.”
As the excavator pulled the building apart, Smith said it was more clear to him than ever that the cabin was in rough shape.
“To see how wobbly it was when he put a bucket on it, it kind of made me think, ‘Look at that thing shake,'” he said. “I think it had a little more lean this year than it’s ever had before.”
Smith said the demolition is expected to wrap up early next week.
“The next step would be site preparation,” said Chris Morris, chairman of Dewey Mountain Friends, which raised $350,000 for construction of the new lodge. “From there, we’ll have to pour a foundation and move on to putting the new building up. We want to get it up before the start of the next ski season.”
Morris, who grew up skiing at Dewey and is a volunteer coach at the ski center, said he also had many fond memories of the old buildings, but their time has come.
“Like a lot of people, I spent a lot of my childhood in that old log cabin after Bill Koch races and lollipop races,” he said. “It was tough to see it come down, but we’re all excited about the next phase for Dewey Mountain.”
The new lodge still needs approval from the village planning board. North Woods Engineering of Saranac Lake, which is designing the building, held a pre-application conference with the board earlier this month. Joe Garso of North Woods said at the time that he expected to submit a formal application by June 15 so the project would be on the board’s agenda in July.