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Ski area sells to only bidder



Last modified: Thursday, December 16, 2010
The Tenney Mountain ski area was sold for $500,000 at a foreclosure auction to a New York City investment company yesterday, and the firm's general counsel says it has about six potential buyers showing interest in opening up the mountain to skiers again.

The Plymouth mountain failed to open this year, with financial troubles resulting in a combined $200,000 in unpaid back taxes between the 445-acre ski area and two vacant properties nearby.

Yesterday, Mitch Kulick, general counsel for Iroquois Capital, an investor in the resort, was the only bidder at three separate auctions for the properties. Ross Finn, the Newton, Mass.-based auctioneer, attributed the lack of bidders to the economy, calling it a "sign of the times."

Along with $500,000 for the ski area, part of which spills over into neighboring Groton, Kulick was awarded bids of $100,000 and $250,000 for the adjacent 40-acre and 385-acre properties.

Kulick said the potential buyers he had spoken with expressed interest in buying all three properties in a package deal, possibly turning the vacant land into residential communities. Kulick said some hoped to reopen the ski area as early as next winter.

The auction for the ski area took place inside the empty lodge, with employees and residents present.

"We were hoping for good news, but we're not sure what kind of news it is," said Debi Byers, who was the resort's operations director.

Byers and her husband, Dennis, a mountain manager, have worked at Tenney for more than 20 years. Four of their five daughters grew up working at the resort. Their old English sheepdog, Zoey, a familiar greeter, was moping in the car, Byers said.

"It's kind of like Cheers," Byers said. "Everybody knows who you are."

The mountain was owned by Frank Nocito, president of St. John's Realty, a New York company. The resort was last operated by Kirk Nassetta of White Mountain Exploration.

Tenney's history over the last two decades has been sprinkled with rough patches, closing and reopening as the property changed hands. The ski area was recently shut down for the 2006-2007 season.

"This is not new," said Hank Binney, a 15-year employee whose role as lead ambassador included checking tickets and overseeing parking. "All you can do is wait and see."

Dennis Byers said he's worked under five different owners since he first took a job at the mountain in 1985. After speaking with Kulick, Byers felt positive about what might happen in the future.

"Something good," he said.

Earlier this year, the Byerses bought White Mountain Exploration, which also coordinated various outdoor adventures on Tenney Mountain, and are in the process of moving yurts and ziplines to a mountain in Rumney. If the resort reopens, however, both said they would be interested in returning to work there.

Down the road at the Tenney Mountain Country Store, owner Balkar Singh said he is also hoping the mountain reopens to skiers soon. During the winter months when the slopes are open, his business shoots up 30 percent, he said.

"This is a quiet area," he said. "Not many people get out here."

(Matthew Spolar can be reached at 369-3309 or mspolar@cmonitor.com.)