Middlefield residents overwhelmingly approved the sale of Powder Ridge ski area to Brownstone Exploration and Discovery Park owner Sean Hayes during a town-wide referendum on Thursday in nearby Middlefield.
1132 voters supported the deal while 466 voted against the sale of the property at the Middlefield Community Center.
Earlier this year, Hayes offered to pay the town $700,000 for the 226 acre property and invest an additional $2 million in the abandoned ski area to restore downhill skiing.
"To me it was never about winning or losing. It was about a resounding, I wanted and felt we needed and this town needed a resounding yes," said Hayes. "To me, 1100 to 400 is a resounding yes."
Thursday's voter turnout — 1600 voters total which included two ballots that were blank, according to Moderator Allison Dodge — was greater than 50 percent, a stark contrast to last year's 259-28 approval at town meeting of a deal between the town and Alpine Ridge LLC, which backed out of buying the property in October 2011.
Hayes even said afterwards that Brownstone had 1600 visitors on Thursday.
Watch the result of Thursday's vote be announced in the attached video
Opponents of the deal felt Middlefield deserved more money for the property which the town purchased in 2008 for $2.55 million. The ski area hasn't been operational since 2006 and the property has fallen into disrepair.
Leading up to the referendum some were critical of the negotiations between First Selectman Jon Brayshaw and Hayes.
"I'd be a liar if I didn't say that it has bothered me, this discord for the last three or four months," said Brayshaw. "I'm thrilled. A lot of people worked very hard. I think people want Middlefield to have what it used to have and Powder Ridge was always a piece of our history, part of our fabric."
"I voted yes because I've lived here for six years and we've been voting on this for six years," said Middlefield resident Melissa Maniscalco. "I think the jobs and introducing some people back into Middlefield so we have some sort of a better tax base would be nice."
Kimberly Schmaltz grew up in Middlefield and voted "yes."
"I absolutely support it," Schmaltz said. "It's a great thing for the town. We need something back up there and what he wants to do is fantastic."
By law, a closing on the property must be held within three weeks of the referendum but Hayes said he looked forward to breaking ground on the project in September.
"Now it's our turn, so now we have to perform," Hayes said.
"We definitely need it," said Livia Jacobs, a 10-year Middlefield resident. "Yes, yes, 100 percent, yes."