New Chair Ski Lift Coming To Taylor County 2/27/18
The highest point in Taylor County is going to be the site of a new chair ski lift. Representatives of Forest Springs applied for a permit to replace two rope tows with the chair lift. Because the base of the lift would be 15 feet instead of 75 feet as required from James Lake, Zoning Administrator Kyle Noonan referred the decision for a zoning variance to the Board of Adjustment. The 3 person board consisting of Arlen Albrecht and substitute members Jim Metz and Patty Smith listened to details of the project from Eric Stolhammer, Mike Harenstein, and Del Kroeker. Forest Springs has been in existence since 1958 working to improve services to an estimated 14,000 people annually. The closest concrete anchor for the chair lift would be 15 feet from the high water mark which is farther away from the water than the existing rope tow. Speaking as a citizen, county board member and Rib Lake School District resident, Rollie Thums spoke in favor of the project indicating there are some students who are unable to utilize the rope tow but would be able to enjoy the safety of the chair lift.
Area landowner Fred Ebert indicated he also supported the concept and said that barring a rare 4 to 5 inch per hour rainfall, the proposed erosion double silt walls should help to minimize the effects of erosion.
Chairman Arlen Albrecht chuckled when he said pieces of his mittens were probably still on the rope tow. Albrecht felt that safety would be greatly improved. Jim Metz called the project a progressive move and also supported the increased safety features. Patty Smith told the group she would rather take steps than a rope tow. She appreciated the affordable nature of Forest Springs, but expressed her concerns with minimizing erosion during the project.
Forest Springs officials indicated that the proposed chair lift will be a refurbished system from the eastern U.S. To assure safety, all fix grips which attach the chair to the cable would be x-rayed to verify tightness after 1 year of use. Following that, each year 20% of the fix grips would be x-rayed to insure tightness. The chair lift will have a capacity of 1200 people per hour and will stretch 660 feet up the hill.
Following discussion the 3 member Board Of Adjustment voted unanimously to grant the zoning variance and allow Forest Springs to install the new chairlift on Taylor County’s highest point near Westboro.