The Mountain Times

°F Sat, April 19, 2014

Central Vermont's Most Popular Weekly Newspaper

Building the Andrea Mead Lawrence Lodge, set to open this winter (1)


The Andrea Mead Lawrence Lodge at the base of Pico Mountain is nearing completion. With 6,000 square feet on two floors, it will be the new home for Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sports and The Pico Ski Education Foundation (PSEF).
The building features an impressive system of thoughtfully designed decking, outdoor ramps and an elevator, which will ensure that both floors are accessible for everyone. Part of that design included adapting existing Pico structures to improve their functionality, too. Now this building provides a connection to the Pico Ski Club building and the Pico Mountain base lodges, bringing accessibility to all.
The building's namesake, Andrea Mead Lawrence, is a continuing source of inspiration for both organizations, which will call the lodge home. Lawrence, the daughter of Brad and Janet Mead who founded Pico Ski Area, went on to become an Olympic gold medalist.  She made the national ski team at age 14 and competed in the Olympics the following year in 1948. At age 19 she was captain of the women's team and went on to win gold medals in slalom and giant slalom, the only time an American woman racer has managed that feat.
The Lodge was made possible largely because Vermont Adaptive and PSEF were able to join forces. Not only were both groups in need of more space, but their mission statements overlap and it made sense to cooperate, organizers say. Both organizations are committed to providing snow sports opportunities to whoever is interested, regardless of their challenging financial situation or their disabilities.
Vermont Adaptive will now have some much needed storage space and administrative offices. Pico Mountain is the state headquarters for Vermont Adaptive; programs similar to those at Pico run at other resorts across the state. With five full time staff working at headquarters and three out in the field, plus about 500 volunteers statewide, the organization had outgrown the humble space allotted to them. Participants will now enjoy a large, dedicated program room, a room for those with sensory issues, family rooms, and lounges.
"We are so excited to have this much space," said Erin Fernandez, executive director of Vermont Adaptive, as she gave The Mountain Times a tour of the building recently. "Killington/Pico has always given generously and we've always had what we have needed to operate but space has been limited… they fully believe in what we are doing here. From the executives like Chris Nyberg and Mike Solimano all the way down, we've gotten an overwhelming amount of support. They donated the land this building sits on, for example," she said of Killington/Pico and parent company POWDR.
The Pico Ski Education Foundation will also use the new lodge, much will be racing related. Coaches of the Pico Ski Club are looking forward to new offices, event and fundraising space, staging areas and more. The story of the new lodge, however, is really about community support that both these organizations have enjoyed while planning and building this lodge, said Fernandez. "The money for envisioning and constructing this lodge has all come from donations, both cash and in kind."
Organizers have $150,000 left to raise and the two organizations are urging people to "support accessibility for all and remember that every dollar counts and every dollar is being used as efficiently as possible."
Many companies have given generously and the community, ski club members and Vermont Adaptive donors have exceeded expectations, explained Fernandez. People have also donated time, materials and expertise to drive the price of the building down. "It's been a true community effort and we could not have done it without this continued support," Fernandez added.
A ribbon cutting ceremony will be on Friday, Nov. 8 at 10 a.m. A public open house will be held Saturday, Nov. 9 from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. with a celebration at 4 p.m.
The lodge is on tract to be open this winter.

1- PICO Streetside Photo6

Photos by Kim Jackson