ST. ALBANS — The Hard’Ack Recreation Area will be merging with St. Albans City.
Hard’Ack Trustees President John Holzscheiter spoke to the St. Albans City Council Monday, explaining a final agreement for the merger will be provided to the city by attorney and Hard’Ack trustee Tim Hurlbut late this week or early next.
“Hard’Ack’s board felt after many years of partnering, communicating and sharing visions and goals with each other that a joint venture between Hard’Ack and the city will allow Hard’Ack the necessary resources to become one of the State of Vermont’s premier recreational facilities and destinations,” he said.
“The trustees have a greater vision… and now is the to join with a partner that can make that vision a reality,” said Holzcheiter.
‘We strongly believe that partner is the City of St. Albans. They bring the depth, infrastructure, ability, grant writing and shared vision that Hard’Ack needs in order to be on par with the Essex Tree Farm Recreational Facility, Milton’s Bombardier Park and other such community recreational facilities,” Holzcheiter said in a written statement.
The trustees initiated meetings and discussions with the city, which have been going on for some time, Holzscheiter said.
Hard’Ack Inc., the nonprofit corporation that runs Hard’Ack, will continue to exist, explained city manager Dominic Cloud. Following the example of the Downtown Board, which doubles as the board for the private non-profit St. Albans for the Future, the Hard’Ack Board will serve as both the city’s official municipal board and the board of Hard’Ack, Inc.
The board will recruit nominate members and the council will appoint them, he explained.
“We’re going to continue to look to the Hard’Ack Board to provide the vision, just as we look to the Downtown Board to provide the vision for downtown,” said Cloud.
“The Hard’Ack trustees have laid out a vision,” he said. “That vision resonates with us.”
Several years ago the board drew up plans for a base lodge along with field and parking improvements.
For roughly a decade, the city and Hard’Ack have been working together, with the city providing insurance and payroll services for Hard’Ack, said Cloud.
In addition, the city’s recreation department works with the Hard’Ack trustees to organize events and programs at the facility, including the annual Winter Carnival.
“We’ve been dating. We moved in together. Let’s get hitched,” said Cloud. He also added, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, that it was appropriate for Hard’Ack to have been the one to propose.
In their role as managers of the non-profit, the trustees will continue to raise funds privately for the operation of the ski hill and recruit volunteers, said Holzcheiter.
“This is a great deal that taps into the volunteer strength and civic commitment of the Hard’Ack Board,” and combining that with the administrative and financial skills of the city, said Cloud.
Volunteers have been overseeing recreation at Hard’Ack since the 1920’s, said Holzcheiter. Hard’Ack, Inc. was incorporated in 1965-66.