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Plan Calls For Revival Of Randolph’s Rope-Tow


Submitted 3 months ago

Could Randolph Village once again boast a rope tow for wintertime snow-tubing, skiing, and boarding?

That is the hope of Perry and Lynn Armstrong, who are seeking permits from the Randolph Development Review Board to open an outdoor recreation area behind 26 Elm Street. The property was formerly a farm owned by Harold Farr, who ran a rope tow that was hugely popular with local skiers, young and old, from about 1936 or so to 1966.

The Randolph DRB will review the Armstrongs’ proposal for both conditional use and site plan permits at its Tuesday, Aug. 21 hearing, 7 p.m. at the Randolph Town Hall. Also on the agenda that night is a request from Gregory Lamson, who is seeking site plan and conditional use approval for sales of used cars, sheds, and other items at 705 Route 12S, just north of Central Supplies.

Rope-Tow Revival?

In an on-the-road, mobile-phone interview last week, Perry Armstrong said that the Elm Street property, now owned by Edie Palmer, “had been sitting there,” for sale, for some time. He said he reached an agreement with Palmer to purchase the property for “a significantly lower cost, based on my intent to put in a rope tow.”

Armstrong and his wife now have a sales-and-purchase agreement with the Palmers for the property. It’s about 12 acres, most of which is the hillside behind homes on the west side of Elm Street. The property is in the Randolph Village High Density District.

“If we can get approval by September, we could have a tow line by this winter for snow tubes,” Armstrong said, adding that he thought some skiing and snow boarding would be possible too.

Armstrong said he has looked for inspiration and information from a couple of other Vermont towns—Brattleboro and Ascutney— who have mounted community efforts to create recreation options for the community.

He stressed that the project he is proposing would require support from the community and the Elm Street neighborhood to become a reality.

If the neighbors are opposed, Armstrong said, he might explore turning the property into housing.

“It will need to be a community effort; it will need to be a nonprofit to get insurance,” he pointed out .

Many details still need to be worked out, including a cash-flow challenge, he said. The small-scale rope tow could not generate enough income to cover expenses, “but with community involvement, we can find a way to carry the ball,” Armstrong predicted.

The project “is not about making money,” said Armstrong, but rather a way to create more community “glue.”

A member of both the Randolph Selectboard and Planning Commission, Armstrong said that Town Manager Adolfo Bailon has expressed support for the plan, but that he had not yet spoken to his fellow selectboard members about the idea.

Armstrong is also among a small group of people who are working on major development in town—a large hotel on property that Armstrong owns on Route 66, above the Exit 4 interchange.

Armstrong, the owner of the Randolph-based Rain or Shine Tent and Events, said the goal is a locally-owned franchise of a national chain hotel.

Car & Shed Sales

Also at its August 21 hearing, the Randolph DRB will also consider Gregory Lamson’s request to operate a business that sells sheds, used vehicles, and items at a now undeveloped site on Route 12S. The property is in the town’s Gateway Commercial Retail District.

Lamson was on the DRB’s June 19 hearing, but did not appear to present the plan. His zoning request, initially continued to the July hearing, was again rescheduled to the August hearing, at Lamson’s request.

-- SANDY VONDRASEK
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