SOUTHINGTON — Mount Southington Ski Area owners plan to expand parking to accommodate more snow sports students as well as warm-weather activities at the Mount Vernon Road attraction.
This summer, the ski area at 396 Mount Vernon Road is adding 2,000 feet of snow making pipe, building a snow sports building that’s four times as large as the existing one and adding ski lift capacity. Earlier this year, Mount Southington bought 426 Mount Vernon Road, a property adjacent to the ski area’s parking lot to the east of the slopes.
“We purchased an adjacent property that was at one time part of the original property, back in the 1960s,” said Jay Dougherty, the ski area’s general manager.
Dougherty said the 3.75-acre property will be used for parking and storage. He anticipates a need for more parking but also more convenient parking.
“Certainly on peak days we fill our lots to capacity,” he said. “It’s going to be more convenient.”
Mount Southington is looking for town approval to expand its special use permit for the newly acquired land. The Planning and Zoning Commission could take up the issue at its meeting in July.
The ski area already got town approval to construct a snow sports building. The foundation of that building is poured. Dougherty expects it to be complete by the fall.
During the summer months, the building will be the home base for FAST Camp, a multi-sports camp held at Mount Southington.
Dougherty said the ski area is also using the summer to add snow making capability. There’s not enough snow during the year to keep the slopes covered.
“Natural snow doesn’t do much for us other than get people excited,” Dougherty said.Making the most of the property
Barbara Hekeler, executive director of the Southington Chamber of Commerce, said Mount Southington hasn’t been idle in finding additional uses for the property.
“If you only opened for the ski weather, you’d only open for a couple of months,” Hekeler said. “Mount Southington has been really good at utilizing their property all year round.”
The ski area’s Mountain Room is also used for weddings as well as fundraisers.
“Over the years, they’ve been great connecting with the community, hosting a variety of fundraisers,” Hekeler said.
She said Mount Southington’s success contributes to the town’s economic health. The ski area is a major driver of tourism to town.
“It’s a great location, a great attraction,” Hekeler said. “Southington has grown as a destination spot in New England.”