Hard’ack’s New Greg Brown Lodge

CJ Fisher

The+Greg+Brown+Lodge+at+Hard%27ack%0APhoto+credit%3A+Larissa+Hebert

The Greg Brown Lodge at Hard’ack Photo credit: Larissa Hebert

Adelyne Collin, Writer

Maintained by the Saint Albans Recreation Department, Hard’ack is a small non-profit public forest park, which was established as early as 1965.  Over the years, hiking paths, frisbee golf, a sledding hill and a rope tow for skiers and snowboarders have been added for the public to enjoy. Recently, a new project has been in the works to construct a lodge at the bottom of the skiing and sledding hill. 

The newly-constructed Greg Brown Lodge provides an area for people to have a space indoors while visiting the park. As of now, COVID-19 has prevented the lodge from being fully open; however, the snack bar was open and selling water, hot cocoa and food while the sledding and ski hill was used.

The lodge’s tables, shelving and storage (for equipment) and bathrooms are useful additions to Hard’ack. With a capacity of 99 people at a time, the lodge includes an office for the Recreation Department, a patio and firepit. 

When asked about how this project was funded, Kelly Viens, Recreation Director for the Saint Albans Recreation Department, said, “There was a businessman named Greg Brown in town, and he passed away. His wife, Jackie Brown, decided…[because] he was very active in the community…[that] it would be a great way to remember him, so she donated funds for the construction of the lodge, [now] called the Greg Brown Lodge. After that, Andrea Wells and John Holzscheiter donated funds in memory of their son [AJ]. An engineer in town, Peter Cross, and his wife, Pam, also donated funds. The lodge is nearly paid for, and the Hard’ack board will continue to do some fundraising.”

Arnold and Scangas Architects, here in Saint Albans, designed the building and collaborated closely with the Hard’ack board and building committee. Within the great room, the north-facing wall has large glass doors facing the soccer fields. 

“It’s really a nice place that we’re anxious to be able to open to the community after things with COVID settle down,” Viens said. 

During the construction of the lodge, COVID-19 played a large role in slowing down the process. COVID-19 shut down warehouses across the country, delaying the shipment of materials and resources. This impacted the completion date. 

“In construction, all your contractors are synchronized, like someone comes in and does the ceiling, and then someone comes in and does drywall, and then the floor. Everyone’s schedule depends on everyone else,” Viens said. 

Over the course of this past winter, members of the community have been active at Hard’ack, skiing, sledding and hiking. Even with the lodge being currently restricted to the public, people are still able to utilize the park. The patio, fireplace and snack bar were very popular among the community.

“To be able to even have that bit available during a winter that was tough on people- to get outside, I think, has already had a great impact [on the community]. As I look to things changing and getting back to normal, we’ve got this beautiful room that we have available for programming and for events, and for people using the hill, whether it’s summer or winter, that can come in and just enjoy it,” Viens said. 

Aside from the Greg Brown Lodge, the Hard’ack board has another project coming up in the near future. Recently, Saint Albans City voted for the construction of a new public pool. The plan is to open the pool year-round with a heated dome put up during the winter months. In order for the pool to be completed by the summer of 2022, the construction is organized to begin this summer. The many features that have been added to the design of the pool, such as a six-lane lap pool, a 26 ft. spiral slide, a diving area, along with the pool having an easily-accessed entry into the water, allows a larger portion of the community to utilize the pool. 

Viens said, “It’s much like the beach…It’s great for little kids and little families, and it’s also good for people with limited mobility that have trouble with [pool] ladders and stairs.” 

Hard’ack is now expanding its infrastructure with the development of the Greg Brown Lodge and the future pool. In response to inquiries about further projects at Hard’ack, Viens said, “We’re super, super excited about starting that construction [on the pool].” 

Additionally, the lodge and pool gives the Saint Albans Recreation Department a new space for kids. The swim team will practice in the pool, and the lodge will provide a space indoors for kids to keep their belongings while participating in their outdoor activities.