Groups working to revive the historic Telemark lodge restored power to the building late in the week and continued to drain the plumbing system to avoid further deterioration of the mechanical systems through the winter, a leader in the effort reported Friday.
The work is intended to preserve the building while the Central Cross Country Ski Association and local officials pursue a plan to develop an Olympic Training site on the 975-acre property, utilizing the network of ski and mountain bike trails that draw thousands to the area each year. Once a major tourist draw in northern Wisconsin, the 66-year-old Telemark resort has fallen into bankruptcy four times and was shuttered from March to October, during the latest foreclosure.
Clifton Louis and Mount Telemark Properties LLC bought the resort in a sheriff’s sale on Oct. 15 and have been cooperating in the efforts to create a permanent recreational venue.
Louis, a Colorado resident and Birkie skier with ties to the wealthy SC Johnson family, reportedly offered to donate the lodge and about 20 acres of land to CXC, and to turn over 135 acres of adjacent land in a lease-to-own arrangement. In addition, Louis offered about 70 acres of the property to the American Birkebeiner Ski Federation to create a safe, permanent start area for the 41-year-old race.
CXC officials inspected the sprawling building and concluded the non-profit group could not take on the enormous task of renovating and operating it, according to Oyvind Solvang, president of the CXC Board of Directors. The electricity in the 200-room lodge and conference center was shut off on Tuesday, exposing the plumbing system to freezing in the coming winter.
Olvang reported Friday that the electricity had been restored and local plumbers and volunteers were working to drain the pipes in the main lobby and conference area, the lodging wings and sprinkler system.
“It shouldn’t significantly deteriorate with the plumbing being drained,” said Solvang, a mechanical engineer and owner of Hillcrest Builders. “It’s not perfect, but I think it’s OK.
“We’re still in a manner of hope and faith and effort here, that we can make something happen.”
Working with the Birkebeiner and Bayfield County, CXC will look at putting up a new building, and utilizing some parts of the existing lodge to house skiers training on the Telemark trails and the adjacent American Birkebeiner ski trail. The focus will be to “find something that will work at Telemark,” Solvang said.
If successful, the resort would host junior and elite skiers for training, and serve citizen skiers, bikers and hikers traversing the trails in the Bayfield County Forest.